The brilliant #1 New York Times bestseller
Named a best book of 2020 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, The Guardian, and many more
With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with her peerless, Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.
The story begins in May 1536: Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.
Cromwell, a man with only his wits to rely on, has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to the breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. All of England lies at his feet, ripe for innovation and religious reform. But as fortune’s wheel turns, Cromwell’s enemies are gathering in the shadows. The inevitable question remains: how long can anyone survive under Henry’s cruel and capricious gaze?
Eagerly awaited and eight years in the making, The Mirror & the Light completes Cromwell’s journey from self-made man to one of the most feared, influential figures of his time. Portrayed by Mantel with pathos and terrific energy, Cromwell is as complex as he is unforgettable: a politician and a fixer, a husband and a father, a man who both defied and defined his age.
In Mantel's magisterial conclusion to the Wolf Hall trilogy, Henry VIII's fixer, Thomas Cromwell, is everywhere. Born poor, Cromwell has risen to Viceregent, Privy Seal, and Baron, with more than a fair share of blood on his hands. The story picks up where Bring Up the Bodies left off, with Cromwell, now in his 50s, witnessing the execution of Anne Boleyn. Cromwell reconciles the king to his stubbornly Catholic daughter, supervises the printing of the English Bible, and arranges the king's marriage to Anne of Cleves. Meanwhile, Cromwell reflects on his crimes and remembers his impoverished youth ("we yearn for our origins; we yearn for an innocent terrain"). In Henry's court, everyone has a grudge; key issues, whether religious, personal, or political, are decided according to who has the king's ear; and disagreement is easily framed as treason. Mantel's craft shines at the sentence level and in a deep exploration of her themes: Henry sees himself as "the mirror and light" to all other princes, but Cromwell is Henry's secret mirror, the record of the king's weaknesses and compromises. Cromwell keeps turning wreckage into building materials, until, that is, the wreckage is his. The series' first two books won the Booker Prize the third, rich with memory and metaphor may be even better.
The Mirror and the Light
This book was a great disappointment; although Mantel’s style is consistently of high quality the content is overly inflated. Her use of side plots which contribute little to the main storyline are irritating. These plus an overly large use of a characters musings cause the book to drag on endlessly. I’ve rarely been so happy to finish such an overinflated book.
Not Up To Par
I agree with another viewer, poor formatting. Wide margins, narrow reading area. Beyond that this was just boring. First 200 pages not bad, last 150 good, all in between filler garbage. Was there a contract to write a huge book? Cromwell was basically an evil and somewhat twisted man, and this attempt to make excuses for him just doesn’t work. Also, back to saying this like “ he,Cromwell” so you know who is speaking or doing what. Annoying! I am disappointed and have to advise you to pass.
Typos, and bad margins on Apple
I’m only a short way in, after devouring the first two when they arrived. For ten years I’ve read the first two on my phone whenever I need to pass the time. This new book, which I preordered after waiting for years, is nearly unreadable on my phone. The margins are so wide that combined they take up as much total width as the words. It’s awful. Wondering whether there’s a way to read this in the kindle app? Otherwise I suppose I’ll need to purchase again in another format. Do not buy this on iBooks.
Also, I’m only a short way in and discovered two typos already.