The Mirror & the Light

The Mirror & the Light

Book - 2020
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"If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?" England, 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, Thomas 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 before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves. Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he 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. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him? With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with 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.
Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Company, [2020].
Edition: First U.S edition.
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780805096606
Characteristics: xvii, 757 pages : genealogical table ; 24 cm.
Alternative Title: Mirror and the light


From the critics

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Feb 25, 2021

Gone, the darkest past,
here, the most radiance cast.
How else can we walk back,
from age better or worse.
His inner verse, universe;
Royal hearse, God's curse.
History may track,
form own and lack.
These volumes unsurpassed,
to future descendants, outlast.

Feb 19, 2021

Third book in Thomas Cromwell Series

Feb 16, 2021

A masterpiece of style. The details are exeptional.

Jan 03, 2021

#3 in trilogy

Dec 28, 2020

Globe 100 2020. Final in wolf hall series about Thomas Cromwell. Final years of the doomed statesman's life.

Dec 09, 2020

Last of trilogy

Nov 28, 2020


Nov 22, 2020

3 STARS. Narrator makes almost insufferable gaffe. The first two volumes in the trilogy were extremely ably read by Simon Vance. Ben Able, how in the world did the notion come to you of trying to pronounce Wriothesley phonetically, when the character had already been introduced by a nickname, which nickname, Call-Me-Risley, informs one how to pronounce the last name? After all in the UK, Cholmondeley, is pronounced Chumly, Beauchamp Beecham, &c. One would not expect this of a narrator with an authentic or assumed received accent.

IndyPL_AngieL Nov 16, 2020

Hilary Mantel’s “The Mirror and the Light,” the third and final installment in the Wolf Hall trilogy, opens right after the execution of Anne Boleyn. As in the previous volumes, this book focuses on the rise--and now the fall--of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII. Despite the mostly grim circumstances, there is also humor to be found in the book; for example, Cromwell’s dry-witted observations are often professed to be true utterances by his many jealous enemies, and even by Cromwell’s own seemingly-loyal people. In this third volume, Mantel does a particularly good job of imagining Cromwell’s thoughts and feelings as he dutifully does the mercurial King’s bidding—whether it be setting up new laws, figuring out the expenses of war, or helping Henry get out of yet another distasteful marriage.

Sep 16, 2020

Comment on the title: What irony in this title! Obviously, that's how Henry saw himself—-when in reality he was a spoiled, narcissistic, avaricious, psychopathic serial killer devoid of conscience and devoted only to his own selfish desires.
Comment on the book: Mantel has a (much appreciated) gift for making the reader feel like they have been transported back in time to Tudor England with a knowledgeable and vivid description of the splendor and the squalor. She takes your senses on a journey from the heights to the depths. At the same time, she puts you in the heads of Cromwell, his protagonists (few )and antagonists (many) with remarkable insight in such a way as to be believable. She offers explanation rather than apology for Cromwell’s oftentimes amoral behavior—-and shows as well a man capable of empathy, compassion, dedication, loyalty and forgiveness. All qualities lacking in his King. Done with the book—-I miss him already.

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