The Armageddon Rag by George RR Martin

Updated: 4 days ago

The Armageddon Rag by George R R Martin (Gollancz, 2013)


This novel was originally published back in 1983, but it was re-published in 2013 following the stellar success of George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones series.


I love George RR Martin’s fantasy writing, but I was fascinated to discover that he had written early works in other genres. The Armageddon Rag is part murder mystery, part homage to the Sixties and the rock music that was an integral part of the protest movement. I was born in 1970, so I am always interested in writing about this time. Once I’d got over my initial surprise at how different this was to A Game of Thrones, I was hooked.


Sandy Blair used to be a journalist with a small rag, the Hedgehog, writing about rock and the hippy scene. After an explosive argument, he parted ways with the editor and went on to become a successful novelist.


He’s financially secure, but his relationship with a realtor is unsatisfying and he no longer finds his writing rewarding emotionally. A call from the Hedgehog’s editor Jared Patterson lures Sandy back into his old world, and he jumps at the chance to research an article about a recent murder.


The Nazgul was a rock band of the Stones or Hendrix variety. At the height of their popularity, their lead singer Hobbit was shot dead during a live concert. The band collapsed afterwards, and the three surviving members went their separate ways.


A decade later to the day, their manager is brutally murdered while the soundtrack to one of their albums plays and police find the corpse lying on top of one of the band’s promotional posters. A local with a grudge is soon lined up by police to take the fall, but Sandy is convinced that finding the identity of the murderer lies in the past.


The cover of The Armageddon Rag by George RR Martin shows a guitar in front of a psychedlic pattern.
The Armageddon Rag by George RR Martin

Sandy starts the road tour to end all road tours where he visits not just the surviving band members but also just about all his friends from the scene. He experiences the obligatory journey of self-discovery, but the portrait of personal growth is well written and the love of music and the protest scene that went into the writing was entirely sincere.


The Armageddon Rag was an amazing book. I felt like I glimpsed much more of Martin’s personality and identity here than I ever did in A Game of Thrones series, even though I loved these books so much and devoured the TV adaptation. The writing was exceptional, and I felt like I was back in the world of my childhood. It was a reflective experience as well as quite an emotional one.


Thank you for reading my review of The Armaggedon Rag by George RR Martin. I'll be back on Friday. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


You can buy The Armageddon Rag by George RR Martin as an ebook here. You can subscribe to my blog here.


If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested in reading my review of In the Tall Grass here. Or you might like to take a look at my review of A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A Villareal here.


If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie here.


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