The Mirror & the Light: A Novel (Wolf Hall Trilogy, 3) - book cover
  • Publisher : Henry Holt and Co.
  • Published : 10 Mar 2020
  • Pages : 784
  • ISBN-10 : 0805096604
  • ISBN-13 : 9780805096606
  • Language : English

The Mirror & the Light: A Novel (Wolf Hall Trilogy, 3)

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.

Editorial Reviews

"The Wolf Hall trilogy is probably the greatest historical fiction accomplishment of the past decade." The New York Times Book Review

"The Mirror & the Light is the triumphant capstone to Mantel's trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith who rose to become the consigliere of Henry VIII...The world is blotted out as you are enveloped in the sweep of a story rich with conquest, conspiracy and mazy human psychology…. Mantel is often grouped with writers of historical fiction, [but] the more apt, and useful, comparison might be with Robert Caro, the biographer of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, the great anatomizer of political power." ―Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

"The searing finale of Hilary Mantel's magnificent trilogy...Mantel is clear-eyed yet compassionate in depicting her coldly calculating, covertly idealistic protagonist and the equally complex people he encounters in his rise and fall from power. Dense with resonant metaphors and alive with discomfiting ideas, The Mirror & the Light provides a fittingly Shakespearean resolution to Mantel's magisterial work." ―The Washington Post

"Wolf Hall, a decade ago, was a sensational character study that electrified an often-visited slice of history. The Mirror & the Light marks a triumphant end to a spellbinding story." ―NPR

"Cromwell [has] a depth at once Shakespearean and modernist. He could be Hamlet, or the title character of one of Freud's case studies...The dissolution of Cromwell coincides with his unmooring in time... One moment he is sucked into his childhood; the next, he is hurled into the sphere of the angels." ― Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic

"Breathtaking...The plot here is shaped as meticulously as any thriller…. With this trilogy, Mantel has redefined what the historical novel is capable of...Taken together, her Cromwell novels are, for my money, the greatest English novels of this century. Someone give the Booker Prize judges the rest of the year off." ―Stephanie Merritt, The Guardian

"Is it as good as the first two books? Yes. Is it a masterpiece? Yes...Mantel may be unique among modern novelists in her ability to make the past as viscerally compelling as the present. A sensualist, she re-creates an age rife with beauty and dread...She re-creates the wicked, bawdy humor of the age, and her action scenes rival Shakespeare. She is an intricate and flawless plotter...But her overriding genius is for characterization." ―The Los Angeles Times

"A masterpiece...A novel of epic proportions [that is] every bit as thrilling, propulsive, darkly comic and stupendously intelligent as its predecessors...The trilogy is complete and it ...

Readers Top Reviews

English professor
Mantel's canny assessment of Tudor people shines through in this terrific novel. She makes one sympathize with those who behave villainously and she requires one to cast a stern eye on the "hero" people. Well-done!
But I just can't. I felt like I was wading through deep mud. It take so many pages of words to express what should be said one or less. I also had a problem following who was talking. Is he that is speaking Cromwell or another character. I would have to back up and try and figure it out. After awhile I just gave up trying to figure it out and kept moving forward. I loved the first two books but this one magnified the few issues the previous books had about following who was speaking. I will say I just skipped a few chapters towards the last third of the book just so I could finish it. I don't totally dislike it but I found it tiring to read. Perhaps I will re-read in the future and if I change my opinion I shall change my review. If you enjoyed the first two I would say give the book a chance. Hopefully it will not be such a tiring endeavor as I found it to be. On to the next book about the Tudor period.
Paul C. GlusmanKatha
This is NOT a review of the content. It’s a review of the book. The paper it’s printed on is unreadable. It’s so thin that you can see the print from the facing page on the one you’re trying to read. If I can’t read it, how can I even begin to discuss the content? Beware if you order the hard copy. The kindle version may be fine. I’d return it but I am trying to not go out except for essential trips. Maybe Amazon will extend return periods?
C. M MillsPaul C. Gl
The Mirror and the Light (a vivid description of the kingship of Henry VIII (died in 1541) is the third volume in the Thomas Cromwell series of novels by Hilary Mantel (the British novelist who has won two Booker Prizes). The story is the biographical account of Thomas Cromwell the Putney brew/blacksmith's son who rose to prominence and fell before the ax of the executioner in Tudor England. This third novel deals with: a. The execution of Henry's second wife Anne Boleyn who is the mother of the future Queen Elizabeth I b. Henry's wooing and marriage to the ill fated Jane Seymour who died giving birth to Edward VI. C. Cromwell's role in the marriage of Henry to Anne of Cleves. Henry hated his new bride and as a result of disfavor Sir Thomas Cromwell was executed. d. Story of the conflict between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Cardinal Reginald Pole wanted to replace Henry and become King of England. e. An intimate look at Cromwell's private life featuring his children. He was the father of an illegitimate Belgian girl and had other children. Mantell is a great writer of historical fiction and knows the Tudor period like the back of her hand. Her style is poetic and literary. You often have to read her long sentences two or three times to get the meaning. Reading her is slow and her prose is a challenge to master. Several times you have to catch yourself to remember whom is talking to whom. Nevertheless, this book is like you are listening in to intimate conversations among high born sixteenth century ambassadors, and aristocrats. Mantel also enjoys following various characters as they meditate on the past and speculate on the future. Anyone reading her should have a basic understanding of the Tudor times she so well presents to us. There are many characters to keep straight and many stories to follow during the course of almost eight hundred pages. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful book. Enjoy and learn!
EmilyC. M MillsPaul
This book was worth the wait. Extraordinary. Hilary Mantel is truly a master of narrative and language. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s unforgettable. A more-than-worthy conclusion to a remarkable series. About the hardback and paper quality: The paper is thin, but it is not see-through. I had no trouble reading it. I actually appreciate the paper choice because it kept this lengthy book from being too weighty to comfortably hold. The quality of the physical book is entirely acceptable.