Saturday, March 3, 2018

Currently Reading: The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin

Published in 1983, The Armageddon Rag is the third novel from prominent fantasy author George R.R. Martin who is most famously known for his Song of Ice and Fire series of books which have been recently interpreted for television as the immensely popular HBO series A Game of Thrones.

Late in 1979, OMNI magazine published a novelette titled "Sandkings." This was the first work by GRRM that I had ever read and it really blew my teenaged mind. Anyone who has not experienced it should find a copy as soon as possible (I now own it in his Dreamsongs collection) and partake of its science fiction goodness. Fevre Dream, the novel preceding The Armageddon Rag, should also be on your bookshelf, because who doesn't enjoy vampires on steamboats? It's another great piece of work by the man and one of the best vampire novels you'll ever read. It wasn't until much later that I came across an excerpt from his novel A Clash of Kings in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which got me excited about GRRM all over again and prompted me to purchase the full novel upon its release. And I was not disappointed, loving it as well as subsequent books in the series. As you probably know, A Song of Ice and Fire is still an ongoing effort, with many fans waiting impatiently for the sequel to the latest release A Dance of Dragons. For me, the series is meandering a bit at this point but hopefully the wait will be worth the wading.

I'm a little more than half through The Armageddon Rag, and GRRM's typical knack for characterization, pacing and just plain good storytelling is present thus far and I don't expect that to change as I head into the tail end. Unlike much of the other fiction I have read by this author, Rag is very much a murder mystery, revolving around the ritualistic death of a famous rock promoter and including loads of references to Sixties music and politics. It is also sort of a road novel in which our protagonist, an underground rock journalist who now writes novels, drives his expensive car across the country, interviewing members of his favorite defunct hard rock band Nazgul in an attempt to solve the mystery and along the way resurrecting relationships with old hippie friends. Any fantasy elements arise but only slightly midway through the book but I expect this to ramp up as I read on. We'll see...

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