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The Armageddon Rag: A Novel Paperback – January 30, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The wilder aspects of the 60s--the frenzied idealism, the cultism, the orgiastic rock music--roar back to life in this hallucinatory story by a master of chilling suspense."

About the Author

George R. R. Martin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons—as well as Tuf Voyaging, Fevre Dream, The Armageddon Rag, Dying of the Light, Windhaven (with Lisa Tuttle), and Dreamsongs Volumes I and II. He is also the creator of The Lands of Ice and Fire, a collection of maps from A Song of Ice and Fire featuring original artwork from illustrator and cartographer Jonathan Roberts, and The World of Ice & Fire (with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson). As a writer-producer, Martin has worked on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and pilots that were never made. He lives with the lovely Parris in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553383078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553383072
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It seems quite appropriate that praise from Stephen King can be found on the back of this book. Like many of King's better novels, the "Rag", doesn't seem like a horror novel at the start. Instead, we are given an engaging mystery set in a real-life setting. But as you continue to turn the pages, you begin to get the sense that something is definitely not right, and eventually, we encounter the supernatural.
I highly recommend this book, but as I write this review, the question I ask myself is, "Exactly *whom* would I recommend it to?" When I first picked up the Rag, I was dubious. Of course I loved Song of Ice and Fire, and I found myself quite impressed with most of Martin's horror and sci-fi works as well... But I didn't have much confidence in an out-of-print horror book with a hippie/seventies/classic rock setting.
Fortunately, I read it anyway, or I would have missed out on one fabulous book.
But will YOU like it?
-If you occasionally find yourself enjoying episodes of VH1's Behind The Music, or the movie Almost Famous, you will appreciate Martin's meticulous attention to the music industry.
-If you are a fan of Stephen King, The Rag will make you feel right at home.
-And, if you've enjoyed any of Martin's other writings, you're sure to approve of his style here as well.
The bottom-line is, this is one book that truly doesn't deserve to be out-of-print, and thanks to Martin's rocketing popularity- it soon won't be. As soon as you can, give it a try!
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Format: Paperback
I love Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series as much as the next person who loves morally complicated and narratively complex fantasy, but I will admit that the only reason I have this book is because someone at the publisher's booth gave it to me for free at the first New York Comic Convention, which was more than a few years ago. It's been sitting in the queue ever since. My copy is actually signed too, which I had forgotten about. Extra bonus!

So in a cost-for-entertainment analysis the book wins hands down. But what about a time-for-entertainment analysis? How does it make out there?

Not bad, actually. In what wasn't a departure for him at the time, the novel is basically a very subtle horror piece, but the kind that doesn't involve wolves or vampires or mummies. Instead, it brings forth kind of an existential problem: "Did I do all of that for nothing?"

The story is basically the aftermath of a 1960s counterculture that we always knew about but is slightly skewed. Sandy Blair is a fellow who was active in the sixties protesting and trying to mess with the system, only to now be much older and finding that the system kind of won, writing hack novels and wishing that he felt more fulfilled. Leaping on a chance to do a story for a magazine he once started about the murder of a promoter for perhaps the most famous rock band you've never heard of, he embarks on a long journey across the United States, and by doing so, travels deep into the tattered soul of the country.

Sort of. The main portion of the novel consists of Sandy visiting old friends in turn, many of which he hasn't spoken to in years, and thus discovering what they've been up to since those idealistic hippie days.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like GRRM. I have read much/most of his catalog (not just the Song of Ice and Fire) and find this his least compelling stand alone. It is well written, but may simply be for an older crowd. The music and memories are from the late 60s-early 70s, about half a generation before me. If you are 50+ and enjoy paranormal fantasy, give it a go.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
[vague spoilers]
Set in the 80s (when it was written) this novel is a sort of "rock-n-roll horror mystery", about a novelist (closely modeled on the author?) who has trouble meeting publisher's deadlines. Instead he decides to play detective, investigating the recent death of a slimy 60s promoter. He sets out on a road trip in which he digs up former 60s buddies, while investigating his prime suspects - the surviving members of "the Nazgul", a fictional-but-legendary band known for its dark, Satanic, Tolkien-themed imagery, broken up since the assassination of their lead singer. Meanwhile the hero begins to find himself plagued by dark visions of undead hordes, blood, fire, and human sacrifice (themes we also see echoed in his unfinished "Ice and Fire" meganovel).

It sounds interesting, but runs too long, with anticlimatic results. I advise reading quickly, letting the "road trip" aspect of the novel wash over you, and not wasting mental energy trying to solve the murder mystery.

This novel sold poorly, and the author blames it for nearly killing his writing career. But it is no worse, and perhaps somewhat better, than his two prior novels (DYING OF THE LIGHT & FEVRE DREAM). I like that the author seems to have emerged somewhat from the nihilistic funk that drove DYING OF THE LIGHT.

But a quest for moral meaning that idolizes the lost 60s can only lead to a silly, unconvincing, result. The dark apocalyptic imagery (the most powerful aspect of this novel) is ultimately brushed aside as shadows on the wall, except that the defense raised against them seems far more illusory.
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