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The Armageddon Rag
George R.R. Martin
Bantam Spectra, 341 pages

George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin was born in 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey. He attended Northwestern University, graduating with degrees in journalism. Martin refused active service: instead he served with VISTA, in Cook County, Illinois. In addition to his writing credits, Martin has served as Story Editor for Twilight Zone, and as Executive Story Consultant, Producer and Co-Supervising Producer for Beauty and the Beast, both on CBS. He also was Executive Producer for Doorways on CBS. At 21, he made his first pro sale to the magazine, Galaxy. Actively involved in SFWA, Martin now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

George R.R. Martin Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: A Game of Thrones
SF Site Review: The Hedge Knight
SF Site Review: Windhaven
SF Site Review: A Storm of Swords
SF Site Interview: George R.R. Martin
SF Site Review: A Clash of Kings
SF Site Review: A Game of Thrones

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katharine Mills

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Ash It's likely that people might pick up The Armageddon Rag because they enjoyed George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, and were hoping for more of the same.

It isn't. In fact, I thought at first this was a straightforward mystery novel (albeit with a fantasy connection). It's a good mystery, though, my favourite kind, in which the characters rather than the whodunnit are front and centre. The book opens with Sandy Blair, blocked novelist and refugee from the 60s shellshocked by the materialism of the 80s, receiving a blast from the past.

This particular blast is a telephone message from Jared Patterson, Sandy's former editor at the Hedgehog. The Hog was once a counterculture music magazine, but has now sold out like everything else. Jared wants Sandy to come back and write an article for the magazine, about a murder.

It's not just any murder, though. The body belongs to Jamie Lynch, a force from the rock sub-culture that used to be Sandy's home, promoter of Sandy's favourite band, the Nazgûl. He's been gruesomely sacrificed in his office, with the Nazgûl's last album blasting on the stereo.

That pulls Sandy away from page thirty-seven, and into his Mazda RX-7 for a book-length ride into a past he can't escape and can't recapture.

Martin's creation of that past is part of the magic of The Armageddon Rag. His alternate history lives in every detail -- I was almost tempted to go Googling to find out if the West Mesa concert at which the Nazgûl's lead singer was assassinated really happened and somehow was glossed over. Through the book, Sandy relives it all; his quest to find out who killed Jamie Lynch and why takes him down a memory highway of old lovers, enemies and friends.

Meanwhile, someone from that past appears determined to reunite the Nazgûl for one final concert. Sandy finds himself not only trying to solve a murder, but trying to stop that concert, all the while fighting through the personal issues he buried in the past and is now unearthing.

One can't say much more, of course, without spoiling the end. I can say it's a worthwhile trip, all the way. In The Armageddon Rag, Martin builds a never-been time in musical history in all its glory; the only thing the book lacks, to my mind, is a soundtrack album.

Copyright © 2007 Katharine Mills

Katharine Mills lives a vagabond life in Southwestern Ontario, with a posse of three cats. Aside from reading, she also acts, bakes, and makes things. She rarely sleeps.


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