Synopses & Reviews
"If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?"
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.
"The Wolf Hall trilogy is probably the greatest historical fiction accomplishment of the past decade." The New York Times Book Review
"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
"Magisterial... Mantel's craft shines at the sentence level and in a deep exploration of her themes...The series' first two books won the Booker Prize — the third, rich with memory and metaphor — may be even better." Publishers Weekly
"Another masterpiece of historical fiction... The Mirror & the Light is superb, right to the last crimson drop... A complex, insightful exploration of power, sex, loyalty, friendship, religion, class and statecraft... A stunning conclusion to one of the great trilogies of our times." Independent (UK)
About the Author
Hilary Mantel is the two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize for her best-selling novels, Wolf Hall, and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. Both novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Mantel is the author of over a dozen books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, and the memoir Giving Up the Ghost. In 2014 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire.