Greg’s Sunday quickie — My favorite fantasy novel that isn’t a fantasy novel

One of my all-time favorite fantasy novels involves a dark magician who gathered around him a small cabal of talented, like-minded specialists and led them in a pact with demonic forces in exchange for great power, wealth, and notoriety. What followed was a meteoric rise to the pinnacles of influence. They strode across the world like gods. Denied nothing, they freely indulged any depraved amusement they could dream up. And for a time, they were rewarded for it.

But, as these things go, there came a cost. One of them lost his child. Another, his life. And the dark master magician himself found his sanity and health drifting away. Only the fourth of their brotherhood, the least flamboyant among them, who alone refused to enter into the pact, emerged largely unscathed. This one would go on to enjoy quiet satisfactions, such as arranging the strings on REM’s Automatic for the People album. He was called John Paul Jones, and he’s still a great bass player.

And that’s pretty much Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga, by Stephen Davis. I consider it the rock bio equivalent of the Matter of Britain. Only with more urine.

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