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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dystopia/Utopia?
From the first paragraph of Divided Kingdom you know you are in capable, skilled hands. This feeling stays with you until the last page. Having not read any of Rupert Thomson's work - this certainly won't be the last I purchase - I didn't know what to expect other than the clear dystopian thrust. All I knew was that I was excited and apprehensive. And you know what? I...
Published on 1 Mar. 2011 by Barry Mcculloch

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful dystopia
Thought provoking although a bit too much in the spirit of a boy's own adventure, the protagonist Thomas Parry never seems to really get hurt through all the danger and troubles he comes across in this dystopia come picaresque.

Parry is taken from his home in the dead of night at the age of 8 and taken to a school where he is indoctrinated into the new world...
Published on 16 Oct. 2010 by Jo Bennie


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dystopia/Utopia?, 1 Mar. 2011
By 
Barry Mcculloch "Barry" (Motherwell, Scotland, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Paperback)
From the first paragraph of Divided Kingdom you know you are in capable, skilled hands. This feeling stays with you until the last page. Having not read any of Rupert Thomson's work - this certainly won't be the last I purchase - I didn't know what to expect other than the clear dystopian thrust. All I knew was that I was excited and apprehensive. And you know what? I still am.

This is a brilliantly conceived novel that conjures up the memories of Huxley, Orwell and Kafka. And like Huxley's Brave New World, you cannot decide whether or not the author is painting a utopian or dystopian picture. Of course, nobody would want to live in the Green or Yellow Quarter but the Blue and Red Quarter would certainly be an improvement on many UK cities.

Buy it, read it, and continue to ask yourself what quarter you would belong to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful dystopia, 16 Oct. 2010
By 
Jo Bennie (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Paperback)
Thought provoking although a bit too much in the spirit of a boy's own adventure, the protagonist Thomas Parry never seems to really get hurt through all the danger and troubles he comes across in this dystopia come picaresque.

Parry is taken from his home in the dead of night at the age of 8 and taken to a school where he is indoctrinated into the new world order. The UK has been redesignated as four separate kingdoms according to the humour of the individual.

The Red Quarter is for sanguine people, optimistic, outgoing and easily distracted, the Yellow for cholerics, quick to anger, passionate, the Green for melancholics, the thoughful depressives, and the Blue for phlegmatics, flexible easy going natured.

Parry becomes a true servant of the regime, entering the civil service and being sent to a diplomatic in the blue quarter, but then he goes to a strange nightclub which brings back memories of his past and goes on the run, travelling through the various Quarters and even becoming a White person, a person who fits in no Quarter but travels between them, before finally returning to the Red Quarter a very changed man.

Thomson shows through Parry's experiences that dividing humours negates the countering effects one humour can have on another, and does not allow for the ultimate aim of the theory of humours, that is, that we should recognise which humour is most dominant in ourselves, that is true, but that a truly balanced or humoured individual is one in which the humours are balanced, and therefore tearing apart the fabric of society cannot be right.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb stuff, 21 May 2006
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This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Paperback)
A boy is taken from his parents in the middle of the night when the government decides to re-arrange the country according to personality type. Borders and guards are put in place creating four quarters of the country, each quarter very different from the next, as are its inhabitants. Or are they so different? How does society cope with these imposed classifications and restrictions? Do people become what they are told they are?

When an opportunity arises for this boy, now a man, to escape the life he has been forced to live for 27 years he seizes it and we follow his amazing journey as he crosses borders, both geographically and within.

I don't think I will ever forget some of the places and imagery in this novel. The White People, The Museum of Tears, The Bathyshpere night club, are just some of the gems from the authors brilliant imagination.

If you want a book that will immerse you and take you elsewhere, while subtly leading you to think more about the world we live in then this book will be right up your quarter!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice premise, shame about the plot. And the characters. And the writing., 15 July 2009
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This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Paperback)
This is the first Rupert Thomson novel I have read and unfortunately, it has not inspired me to read any of the author's other books. "Divided Kingdom" begins quite strongly with an opening section in which the hero of the novel is as a young boy separated from his parents thanks to the "Rearrangement". This is a process whereby Thomson imagines that a breakdown in society has caused politicians to divide the United Kingdom into four separate "Quarters", each of which becomes home to one of four distinct personality types. And the Quarters really are separate, as crossing of borders and interactions between personality types are strictly prohibited. The setup is intriguing and well-sketched in the early part of the novel, and I was looking forward to reading more. Unfortunately, once the focus switches to the adult life of the central character, Thomas Parry, the quality of the writing and the plot goes rapidly downhill.

Thomson has Parry wander around the various Quarters in very basic narrative sequences that really do not establish a convincing motivation for the character's actions: Parry went here, he got some food, he saw this thing, he moved on. Time after time Parry escapes from harm or learns new information because thinly-drawn characters around him behave in non-credible ways that Thomson dismisses with little thought, along the lines of: "I thought x was going to do y, but for some reason he didn't". Parry takes the massive risk of sharing his story and intentions with so many of these characters who appear for two or three pages each and mean nothing whatsoever and it begins to become quite wearying. Reading through, I had other nagging feelings such as the glaring number of unaddressed gaps and unanswered questions about the futuristic dystopia Thomson depicts that impact upon the plotline, for example, what is the logic supposed to be behind delegates from each of the Quarters gathering for conferences.

Parry is a weak central character as we are not really shown what is truly driving him and it is difficult to care what happens to him, particularly when, for example, he fails to intervene in a gang rape and is incapable of establishing a convincing connection with any other character in the novel at all.

There are some great ideas in "Divided Kingdom", some intriguing questions, and from time to time a genuinely entertaining detail or paragraph - e.g. what one of the "White People" does to Parry's watch and what Parry does with the watch afterwards - appeared in the midst of pages and pages of the repetitive meaningless. But for the most part, this book was a real chore to read. There is no real satire or insight and no development of story or character. The denouement is an ever bigger disappointment than the rest of the novel, being even more unconvincing and doing nothing to tie up anything that has gone before. This book is far too fatally flawed as a novel and as a reading experience for me to recommend to anyone, despite its quite promising premise and some of the concepts on display.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing Dystopian novel, 12 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Kindle Edition)
A chilling view of a Britain where people are divided into areas according to their 'humours' based on ancient philosophies. Each colour coded area is controlled by border guards and only the strange 'white' people with no defining colour may pass freely between the areas, but they live a nomadic life in constant fear of violence.
Disturbing, with great depth. Leaves you with many questions about our characters and how we all behave in ways that are influenced by those around us.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, 26 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Paperback)
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is intelligent and engaging, even humorous at times, with a good pace to it. I really like the concept behind the story, as well as the storyline itself. I am nearing the end of the book now and can't wait to see how it ends.
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27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All Air and No Fire, 4 April 2005
This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Hardcover)
Five and a half years is the longest gestation period for a Rupert Thomson novel yet, and a tantalising delay for fans of his previous erudite, original, imaginative fiction. On reading however I can only feel that the delay was due to lack of inspiration, because this is easily Thomson's worst book since The Five Gates of Hell and possibly his worst ever.
The idea is an intriguing one: the United Kingdom has become the divided kingdom (although I never picked up on the pun or association of the two phrases until it was explicity mentioned in the text), the government having become tired of thuggery, brutality and conflict within our land. It decides to divide the country into four, separated by guarded walls and peopled according to personality type: sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic (linked to the old anatomical idea of the four bodily humours of yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood). Our hero is designated sanguine, and is taken away from his parents at the age of eight or so, and given a new name and a new family in the Red Quarter.
I enjoyed the first hundred pages or so, although a few problems were evident too, mainly Thomson's attempted portrayal of a period of ten or fifteen years in a matter of a few dozen pages. With no chapter breaks or proper pacing, it doesn't seem to make sense, particularly as the rest of the book will cover just a few months. The relationships between Thomas Parry - our hero's new name - and his new father Victor and sister Marie are well done, although I did find myself wondering why he never once pined for his real parents whom he had known for almost ten years.
When Parry goes to work for the government, however, the whole thing just falls apart. Thomson has no ideas for a plot other than to explore the four different quarters - five if you count the lives of White People, who are designated none of the four personality types and so live on the fringes of society - which leads to squeaking of crowbars as he puts Parry on a plane to the violent Yellow Quarter for a conference, then a randomly placed (by the author) bomb infuses Parry with an anarchistic vibe - even though his personality surely decrees that this would not happen - and he decides to slope off to the Blue Quarter, where the Phlegmatics live. Because this is the least well-defined personality type, Thomson makes it associated with water instead, for an alternative theme, and the whole thing starts to feel like an episode of The Crystal Maze. Then a shipwreck lands him in the melancholic Green Quarter, and so on. Presumably the idea is that Parry's - and everyone's - personality is not immutable but is actually influenced by their surroundings.
By halfway through I was fed up to the back teeth with Divided Kingdom and it seemed for a time to be the most putdownable book I have ever read. After toiling at its pointless paragraphs for what seemed like hours, I had only passed ten pages. There are no other characters in it who stay long enough for us to get to know them, until Parry meets a young woman near the end when I was past caring. There are shifts of scene and tone so sudden that I started to wonder whether it was supposed to be a dreamscape, like Ishiguro's The Unconsoled, or something similar - and indeed Parry at one point wonders whether he died at the start of the book and everything that happened since has been his death - but in the end it appeared more that huge chunks had been chopped from the book, maybe half the original text in all, to make it more digestible - without success - but wildly compromising the coherence.
It feels like kicking a man when he's down to say all this - after all, Thomson has shown from his other books that he's a talented writer, and he's protean and interesting enough to deserve a break into the bigger time (read The Insult and The Book of Revelation for proof of this) - but you've got to trust your judgement in these things, and mine is that Divided Kingdom stinks like a five-and-a-half-year-old dead turkey. At last, I feel sure, Rupert Thomson will find critical and public opinion united, though perhaps not how he would hope.
In a recent interview Rupert Thomson said that Divided Kingdom is a real break from his other books as "it's the only book I've written than anyone could read." Is that an insufferably pompous statement or is it just me? In fact his other books are far more readable than Divided Kingdom. What he should have said of course is that it's the only book of his that anyone could write.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another triumph, 11 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Kindle Edition)
Another intriguing read by Rupert Thomson. The countries being divided in the way that they are is very much like a city with its different areas. Some people never venture away from their doorstep and maybe there is a good reason for that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Real food for thought - a modern Orwell., 2 Nov. 2014
By 
Chris Bentley "PassItOn" (Sutton Coldfield, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Paperback)
A very clever and thought provoking book, imagining a Britain where the population are split by personality type. When I reached the end I was really disppointed wasn't twice as long!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great ideas but lacking detail and plot direction., 9 May 2005
This review is from: Divided Kingdom (Hardcover)
I read this book over a weekend, mainly due to the fact I was in a house with no TV in the middle of a forest. Had it not been the only book in the house - I probably would not have finished it!
I enjoyed the prose and some of the ideas had great potential and the first 100 pages were fairly captivating. However the book drifted off and the plot had a number of gaping holes (time frames, the fact that no-one else had thought of imitating the White People before to move between borders etc etc)
Overall an enjoyable read, with some really fun and thought provoking ideas and ideals. Sadly badly executed and the net result leaving you disappointed in the book as a whole.
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Divided Kingdom
Divided Kingdom by Rupert Thomson (Paperback - 3 April 2006)
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