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Divided Kingdom Paperback – July 11, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thomson's latest dystopian novel (after The Book of Revelation) begins in brilliant, unsettling fashion when a young boy is taken by government decree from his parents during the initial stages of the Rearrangement, which occurs in a totalitarian, near-future England. In this brave new world, the country's entire population is forcibly reorganized and relocated into autonomous zones according to psychology, or the four humors: choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine. Placed in an orphanage, renamed Thomas Parry and transferred to a new family in the Red Quarter (for sanguine types), he settles in with a father overwhelmed by the loss of his relocated wife and a promiscuous sister desperate for human connection. As an adult, Thomas takes a clandestine job with the government, but soon risks being charged with "undermining the state" when he begins a spur-of-the-moment voyage across borders in search, at first, of his real parents and his true self. Despite a cleverly imagined political system and the promise of sharp social criticism, this allegory limps to an ending that belies its inspired start.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From The New Yorker

In this dystopian novel, the population of the United Kingdom has been divvied up into color-coded sectors determined by humor: the phlegmatic, the melancholic, the choleric, and the sanguine. Under this system, temperament trumps kinship—in a neat twist, the family unit is now considered responsible for "society's disintegration"—and separation is enforced by border guards and government informers. At first, Thomson's hero, Thomas Parry, seems content, as befits his sanguine designation. A rising star in the Red Quarter bureaucracy, he supervises the expulsion of unsatisfactory citizens to other regions. But when, on a rare visit to another quarter, he is issued a mysterious invitation to a night club, where he seems to return to his pre-division life, his faith in the absolute categorization of personality is shaken. Although Thomson's plotting is distinctly schematic—"Brave New World" is his obvious model—he succeeds in imparting a sense of urgency to his hero's search for identity.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (July 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400076595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400076598
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,552,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Divided Kingdom begins with the main character, 8 years old, rousted out of his bed the night the kingdom (a parallel sort of Britain gone to misery and chaos) is divided into quarters based on the four humours in a last ditch attempt to salvage society. Hustled off to a reeducation facility, Thomas Perry is eventually transferred to a family still grieving over the loss of their wife/mother in the Red "sanguine" quarter, where he gradually moves up the political ladder within the ministry responsible for assignments/transfers. The book really starts going when he is sent to a conference in another quarter. There, in a club called the Bathyscope (it reminded me somewhat of Steppenwolf's theater), he sees images/scenes that drive him to skip out on his responsibilities and began a border-crossing trek that will eventually bring him to all four quarters.

The premise of the story isn't all that plausible. The fact that it is barely explored in any pragmatic/realistic sense leads one to think it isn't meant to be seen as particularly plausible anyway. Much as Parry does in the Bathyscope. the reader is being taken on a dreamlike experience and shouldn't look for the nuts and bolts dystopia of an Orwell or Bradbury.

And dreamlike it is, as Parry moves among the various citizens of each quarter, encountering a wide variety of character types, including the mysterious White People, those who can't be assigned a humour (they don't seem to gravitate towards one) and who move in speechless, nomadic packs.

Kingdom is a hard novel to pin down. As mentioned, it doesn't work at all on a pragmatic dystopic level as nothing of how the societies function or not is ever really explored. And for me, it only worked hit and miss on the more surreal level.
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Format: Paperback
That is the premise of Rupert Thomson's dystopian novel "Divided Kingdom". Set in the United Kingdom, a group of unseen, unknown `powers that be' have determined that British society is decaying. Hopelessness, despair, and dysfunction are the hallmarks of the political and economic life of a once great nation. The solution: take Great Britain and divide it into four mini-Britains each separated from the other by a wall similar to the one that used to divide Berlin. People are not permitted to travel from one section to the next. The key to this subdivision of Britain is the "great rearrangement".

Each mini-Britain will be segregated by personality type. Every citizen is assessed and assigned to one of four personality types based on the ancient concept of the four humors: Choleric (yellow), melancholic (green), phlegmatic (blue) and sanguine (red). `Sanguine' people, who are optimistic and even-tempered, must reside in the Red Quarter. `Phlegmatics' are passive and compassionate and tend to let life carry them along like a leaf floating on a stream. They are assigned to the Blue Quarter. `Cholerics' are aggressive, Type-A people assigned to live in the Yellow Quarter, `Melancholics' are introspective and pessimistic, and must live in the Green Quarter. The great rearrangement is planned under great secrecy and the people of Britain wake up one morning to see that the military is supervising the forced shipment of every citizen to their assigned quarter.

As the story opens eight-year old protagonist, Thomas Parry, is snatched from his parents home and placed in a school pending his transfer to the red section. Thomas is placed with a family whose wife/mother has been forcibly sent to another quarter. Thomas adjusts well, on the surface at least, to the great rearrangement.
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Format: Hardcover
After decades of decline leading to despondency, dismay, and depression amongst the citizenry, the English government begins a new program to strengthen the moral fiber of its people. The Rearrangement is simple: Federal agents split families moving people into four psychologically based camps; placing like with like. Whether one was relocated into a choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic or sanguine zone depend on a psychological evaluation of the individual's temperament.

In this brave new world, a child was separated from his parents, renamed Thomas Perry and placed within the sanguine quarter. The lad moves in with a grieving adult whose spouse was sent to another sector. Years later, a grown-up Thomas works undercover for the government. However a revelation hits him to learn who he really is instead of a state socially engineered output. He obsesses over this and decides he should start by seeking to find his biological parents. Taking one tiny step on that path let alone a journey means risking all he holds "dear" because if caught he will be reprocessed to insure he never undermines the state again.

DIVIDED KINGDOM is a fabulous science fiction thriller that starts off with an incredible well written premise that will grip the audience, especially as Thomas has his revelation and begins his quest into a strange underworld. Ironically the deep story line slows down whenever the action is ratcheted up focusing on Thomas faces potential exposure and death from his clandestine peers. The hero is terrific as he serves as the focus of a social experiment that may seem off the wall, but not as far out in a red and blue world as one would think. Rupert Thomson provides an intriguing look at the future.

Harriet Klausner
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