Divided Kingdom by Rupert Thomson

October 2005

This book takes place in an alternate-reality United Kingdom in which the population has been divided up according to the four humors (choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine) in a wide-scale political experiment. The protagonist is separated from his parents as a boy, raised in the "sanguine" section of the Divided Kingdom, and goes on to have strange adventures in all four areas of country.

I bought this book on the strength of a reading given by the author several months ago. The premise intrigued me, and the beginning of the book drew me in and made me want to find out more. But unfortunately, once I had been drawn in, there was really nowhere to go. It was impossible for me to suspend my disbelief enough to totally buy into the premise of the book, and as I read, I found myself half paying attention to what was going on in the story and half analyzing all of the completely implausible aspects of the tale. It's a pity, really: the book's basic concept is interesting, and it has some lovely writing and some great images. But ultimately, I didn't really care about what happened to anyone or how it all ended. I read the book to the end and put it back on the bookshelf, and it was promptly gone from my psyche. Not the mark of a great book.

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