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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trip back to the sixties and forward to the end of the world.
The Nazgūl were the rock band that had it all, but their career was extinguished at its peak when their singer was shot dead at a concert in '71. Now it's 10 years later and their erstwhile promoter has been ritually murdered in a manner that connects with that earlier killing. Sandy Blair, a failing novelist and ex-journalist, finds himself embarking on a quest to get to...
Published on 27 Mar 2011 by Jason Mills

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worst thing he's ever written
The other reviews of this book amaze me. I have been a big fan of George RR Martin since the early '80's. I have read most of his books and short stories and most of them are excellent. I remember seeing this in a bookstore in the 80's and for some reason I didn't buy it. Then it disappeared and for years you couldn't get it. Well, a few years back I finally got a copy -...
Published 19 months ago by M. Mason


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trip back to the sixties and forward to the end of the world., 27 Mar 2011
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Paperback)
The Nazgūl were the rock band that had it all, but their career was extinguished at its peak when their singer was shot dead at a concert in '71. Now it's 10 years later and their erstwhile promoter has been ritually murdered in a manner that connects with that earlier killing. Sandy Blair, a failing novelist and ex-journalist, finds himself embarking on a quest to get to the bottom of the murder.

The journey takes him across America, interviewing the remaining members of the Nazgūl and meeting up with his old friends from the '60s. In everyone he meets he sees the disillusion and dissolution of the '60s dream, and he struggles to reconcile his life now with the idealism of his youth. Meanwhile he discovers that Edan Morse, suspected years ago of social agitation that verged on terrorism, is trying to engineer an unlikely reunion of the Nazgūl, for some dark and disturbing purpose.

The novel is a requiem for the 1960s: its hopes, its liberation, its friendships and most of all its music. I found myself wishing I was at the concerts Martin so thrillingly describes, and that I could go on amazon and order the Nazgūl's albums! But a bigger ambition than nostalgia becomes apparent, as the book edges into supernatural territory and Sandy Blair's fight to maintain his ideals becomes crucial to the future of the world.

Like everything George R R Martin writes, the novel is smoothly engineered, peopled with richly sympathetic characters, deeply felt and boldly imagined. A powerful and satisfying read.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy, Horror and Rock Mix Together for the Greatest Gig on Earth!, 3 Sep 2007
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Paperback)
Sandy Blair is a former rock journalist turned novelist whose latest project isn't turning out as well as it should. However, when the former manger of one the most vital rock bands of the 1960s - the Nazgūl - is murdered in a satanic ritual, Sandy finds himself drawn into an investigation that leads him back to his roots and to some unsettling home truths. Meanwhile, an engimatic promoter is determined to reform the Nazgūl for a reunion tour - difficult since their lead singer was shot dead a decade earlier - that will have a startling outcome.

Like the opening volume of A Song of Ice and Fire and Fevre Dream, The Armageddon Rag (1983) is only superficially a genre story. The SF&F trappings don't kick in until very late in the day (actually far later than either of the first two works; nearly three-quarters of the book go by before any SF or horror elements creep in at all), and once more the focus is squarely on the fascinating characters GRRM creates. There is more of a hint of nostalgia here though, as GRRM also grapples with the death of the ideology of the 1960s and 1970s amidst the rise of ultra-capitalism in the 1980s.

The book thrives on fascinating details: the carefully thought-out Nazgūl album covers, the songs, the setlists. Creating a fictional band and making them feel 'real' is an incredibly difficult task, arguably only successfully achieved in parody (Spinal Tap being the obvious example), but GRRM pulls it off here. Knowing that 'The Armageddon/Resurrection Rag' and 'Ragin' don't actually exist doesn't stop the reader wanting to go and download them from iTunes.

Those familar with GRRM's work will draw a lot of enjoyment from seeing connections that are deliberately drawn: a band called the Fevre River Packet Trading Company or a Nazgūl song called 'Dying of the Light', for example. There are also hints of what is to come in A Song of Ice and Fire: a father-son relationship that is reminiscent of the Tarlys, a giant hulking warrior (or in this case a bodyguard) and a similar mixture of pathos, nostalgia and cruelly unexpected plot twists.

There are a few minor faults with the novel: the events of the ending are ambiguous and one plotline is left seemingly dangling, although I suspect this was deliberate (either as a hook to a potential sequel or, more likely, simply so the book's conclusion wouldn't feel too neat and tidy). Otherwise The Armageddon Rag is an excellent novel that demonstrates the author's variety by producing a work that is as far from his later epic fantasies as is nearly possible whilst staying in the same genre, yet very nearly as compelling. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Armageddon Rag, 20 July 2011
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Paperback)
Starts out as a murder mystery before changing into something more sinister. I liked the correlation of powerful music with the supernatural - an evocative theme!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Armageddon Rag, 18 Sep 2012
By 
Blobby20 "Paul Evans" (LYTHAM ST ANNES, LANCASHIRE United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Hardcover)
I first read this book in November 1984 when New English Library published it as a UK paperback original...glossy black cover, electric guitar, bolts of lightning....I was 14 and loved it. When I saw the hardcover reprint I pulled it off the shelf, dusted it off, and read it again...18 years older it was even better. That's all I really want to say - a fantastic book. I recommend to anyone who wants something different.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mystery but not as you know it., 31 May 2012
By 
Marleen (Cavan, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Hardcover)
During the 1960's Nazgūl was a hugely popular hard rock band, the voice of a generation. But in 1971, when a bullet ended both the life of the charismatic lead-singer and the future of the band, an era came to an end.
During those years Sandy Blair was in the midst of the action. An activist while in college and an underground journalist afterwards he was present at the demonstrations and the concerts. He was there when the bullet found the singer and ended a revolution that never really started.
The world, Sandy Blair and the remaining band-members have changed in the decade since the shooting.
Blair, a published author with three novels to his name is facing a severe case of writers-bloc when the former manager of Nazgūl is murdered in his house; murdered in a way that reflects the lyrics of one of Nazgūl's songs.
When the magazine Blair worked for in the 1960's asks him to investigate the murder he can't reject the offer. Intrigued, Blair goes on the trail of a murderer. A journey that will bring him into contact with the remaining members of the once famous band, his own past and a man who wants to resurrect both Nazgūl and the revolution.
Soon after starting his investigation, Blair finds himself haunted by very vivid nightmares; dreams that become darker and more vivid as the date of Nazgūl's relaunch comes closer. Eventually Blair comes to believe that the visions in his dreams will become reality unless he takes some action.

This is very much a story of two parts. What at first appears to be a rather straightforward mystery - who killed the manager - turns into a psychedelic fantasy about halfway through the book.
The reader is lulled into a false sense of security as they commence on a road-trip with Sandy Blair. While investigating the gruesome murder Blair behaves as any investigative journalist would. He travels to the scene of the crime and talks to those he thinks are likely suspects. It is only later on in the story that the reader discovers that this won't be a straightforward investigation, although the story does end with a revelation that is somewhat surprising.
There is even more to this book though. This is also an ode to the 1960's, to the philosophies of the time and, most importantly to the music that was created during those years. Each chapter starts with lines from songs of that era; lines that in one way or another reflect the content of that chapter.
And finally, this book is also a study of how people's dreams and ideals change as they grow older and have to face the reality of having to life and work in the real world. And although that reality may not kill the original dream, it does make it hard, if not impossible, to live that dream.

I thought this was a fascinating book. The shift from mystery to supernatural story took me by surprise and delighted me. What made the supernatural aspects even more fascinating is that the main character has as hard a time distinguishing between reality and fantasy as the reader has. The reader is never on their own when they wonder what on earth might be going on. The supernatural is as unbelievable to most of the characters as it is to the reader, and therefore suddenly very credible.

This book was originally published in 1983, long before Martin achieved huge fame for his Game of Thrones series. The re-release now is without a doubt due to the popularity that series has now achieved, both in print and on television. Because I've neither read the Game of Thrones books nor watched the series I can't compare this book to Martin's later work. I can say though that this is a very interesting read for anyone who likes mysteries, the supernatural and, most importantly, rock and roll.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Was a Fine Time for Music and Protest, 7 Sep 2011
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Paperback)
Ok, nowadays, when you hear Martin's name, the instant association is (deservedly) with Game of Thrones. But Martin is far from a one-dimensional writer, as this book proves.

Here we find ourselves immersed in the modern world of the eighties, looking back at the music scene of the sixties and seventies, through the eyes of disillusioned journalist/novelist/former radical Sandy Blair, as he investigates the rather grisly murder of a rock band promoter most closely associated with the hard rock band Nazgul, whose lead singer was assassinated while performing. The trail leads through Sandy's sixties friends and associates and on to the SDS and other super-radical groups.

All very normal, could-have-totally happened - till Martin throws in a quiet, subtle, never totally in sight brush with the supernatural that, by the end of the book, just might make your hairs stand on end and have you totally confused as to who to cheer for.

Martin details the music, the belief in change, the youthful optimism of the counter-culture and their defeats and clashes with authority that is sure to invoke strong feelings of nostalgia for those who lived through and were part of that period. At the same time, he shows just what happened to those who were part of that time, as they aged and were faced with the realities of work and supporting a family. There are quotes from various songs of the period throughout the book, some as chapter headings, others woven into the dialog, that do much bring the period to life (for those that remember those songs). His characterization of Sandy is excellent, and many of the supporting characters come through as very distinct, believable, and in many cases somewhat eccentric people. His ending is excellent and surprising, suspenseful right to the final climax.

There's an awful lot to like here, though perhaps it might not resonate as well with younger readers, though even they should be captivated by the both the finely drawn characters and the suspense. As for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worst thing he's ever written, 11 Mar 2013
By 
M. Mason (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Paperback)
The other reviews of this book amaze me. I have been a big fan of George RR Martin since the early '80's. I have read most of his books and short stories and most of them are excellent. I remember seeing this in a bookstore in the 80's and for some reason I didn't buy it. Then it disappeared and for years you couldn't get it. Well, a few years back I finally got a copy - and learned why it has been unavailable for so long. Of all Martins book's this is by far the worst. It is amateurishly written compared to his other books. What further amazes me is that people on here rate this higher than the wonderful Windhaven. Steer clear - there are many other great books by Martin. If you are coming from Game of Thrones, then try Tuf Voyaging; Windhaven; Sandkings; Dying of the Light; the flawed but good Fevre Dream; or the fantastic Wild Cards series (especially the early ones). Steer clear of this one though, or it may put you off him.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Armageddon Rag, 19 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Kindle Edition)
I bought this on the basis of the name. It just seemed to me to be a revisiting of the 1960s with a supernatural story thrown in. The supernatural story wasn't particularly innovative. Large chunks of the book seemed to have no purpose other than nostalgia. As I guessed, I wondered whether the characters he visits Bambi, Lark etc weren't people he knew from those days. I suppose the good thing is that he got lots better in his later books!
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4.0 out of 5 stars great twists and cool writing, but singular narrative makes for somewhat less exciting reading compared to Game of Thrones, 17 Jun 2014
By 
Kaj Christian Nyman (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Paperback)
Good old George does a fabulous story here with Sandy Blair (a reporter/writer) who starts digging up what really happened to the 60's top heavy Band Nazgul during their infamous West Mesa gig where the lead singer (TIm Hobbins aka 'Hobbit) got his head blown off > expect some great twists and evocative writing in this novel interspersed with Martin's usual sexual wit and bravado. On the whole a great novel with awesome characters and detail, however I mainly thought the lack of more than one inherent storyline makes the twists less surprising and/or satisfactory + too quickly resolved. I recommend this to ALL readers of Game of Thrones and thriller reader's in general, as it showcases that George M. is not simply a master of fantasy but handles many genres well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Armageddon Rag really rocks, 11 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Armageddon Rag (Kindle Edition)
Loved it. Usual George R R Martin high standard.
Very diifferent to Game of Thrones. A must for rock fans.
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The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin
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