Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Armageddon Rag

I have been working my way through the oeuvre of author George R.R. Martin. It seems that with each book of his that I dive into, I am transported into an entirely different genre, an entirely different style, and an entirely subject matter. The one constant is complete mastery of his approach. My latest Martin book is another of his pre-"Game of Thrones" works entitled The Armageddon Rag. The story focuses on a major rock and roll band from the early 1970s called "The Nazgul". With their anti-government, anti-establishment message and their eclectic mix of members, they rose to become one of the biggest acts of their time. They were silenced in 1971 during a concert in New Mexico when an assassin blew the head off their lead singer. The surviving members then went their separate ways, devolving into their own distractions and their own vices.

The main character of the story is Sandy Blair, who was one of the respected voices in music journalism of his day. The end of The Nazgul helped to bring about the abrupt end of the protest era and usher in a sobriety and a hopelessness to an entire generation of young voices and minds. Eventually with Sandy's own inability to adjust and to understand how things went so wrong, he was forced down a different career path. He wrote a few novels, but each successive release sold worse than the one before and he was running on fumes. Passionless and disillusioned. A spark was flashed in his spirit when he got a call to write a story about the grizzly murder of the man who used to promote and to control The Nazgul. Seeking some closure to his past, Sandy accepted the assignment and started poking around. Eventually he was introduced to a man who had great plans to revive the voice of the lost protest generation, starting with a reformation of The Nazgul. This new promoter is an eerie man with seemingly strange powers to control and influence people. His plans and his approach do not involve peaceful protest. As Sandy is quickly pulled into the reforming of the band, he begins to work his way through the demons and the failures of his past. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Definitely an enjoyable story and certainly different from anything else that I have read from Martin. This one definitely captured the mood and the magic of the early 1970s, with every bit of anarchy, struggle, and tension inherent in that period.