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The Mirror & the Light (Wolf Hall Trilogy, 3) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 10, 2020
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Frequently bought together
From the Publisher
Wolf Hall (Volume 1 of the Wolf Hall Trilogy)
- WINNER OF THE 2009 MAN BOOKER PRIZE
- WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION
- A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power.
Bring Up the Bodies (Volume 2 of the Wolf Hall Trilogy)
- WINNER OF THE 2012 MAN BOOKER PRIZE
- A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
- ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES’ 10 BEST BOOKS OF 2012
The sequel to Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn.
"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 is magnificent." ―Alexandra Harris, The Guardian
"Brilliant... From that opening sentence―‘Once the queen’s head is severed, he walks away’―axes and the shadow of death are everywhere...Mantel takes what is known of Cromwell―his meteoric rise, his autodidactic scholarship, his reformist tendencies―and weaves them into a masterful portrait of a man at mid-life, facing up to his past." ―The Boston Globe
"The entire trilogy is a brilliant engagement with the exercise and metaphysics of power in 16th-century Europe, an age in which sovereignty was understood to be divinely conferred, channeled through blood...Ms. Mantel has wonderfully conjured the mentality, materiality and channels of power in a vanished age…It is Ms. Mantel’s depiction of Cromwell’s inner workings, so credibly and vividly imagined, that make the work great, as do the characters she summons." ―The Wall Street Journal
"A stunning capstone to an epic that’s both engrossing history and an unsurpassed literary achievement...The Mirror & the Light is a diadem of riches, binding together the complex pieces of Cromwell’s character while leading inexorably toward the scaffold. With the trilogy now complete, Mantel cements her position as one of our greatest literary stylists and innovators." ―Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
"Majestic and often breathtakingly poetic...What The Mirror & the Light offers―even more than the two previous volumes―is engulfing, total sensory immersion in a world...As with the most powerful and enduring historical fictions, the book grips the reader most tightly when, as is often the case, the writing comes as close to poetry as prose ever may." ―Simon Schama, The Financial 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 is magnificent.” ―Alexandra Harris, The Guardian
“Deep, suspenseful, chewy, complex and utterly transporting―truly a full banquet. Most miraculously of all, it’s every bit as good as the first two books, both of which won the Booker Prize. Imagine if the third The Godfather movie had been just as magnificent as the first two: It’s like that. A perfectly executed masterpiece.” ―Elizabeth Gilbert, The Wall Street Journal Magazine
"These novels are sure to be among the books that endure from the early decades of this century…In a novel that could travel far on character and plot, Mantel adds the accelerant of gorgeous language…We are in strange territory, an era that can feel very foreign…But what is not strange―what is achingly familiar and acutely relevant―is the way Mantel meticulously unfolds to us the nature of the human heart, all the old unchanging lusts, avarices, jealousies, hatreds and loves, the desire to live, the fear of death." ―Geraldine Brooks, Air Mail
"This is rich, full-bodied fiction. Indeed, it might well be the best of the trilogy simply because there is more of it, a treasure on every page...The brisk, present-tense narration makes you feel as though you are watching these long-settled events live, via a shaky camera phone... Mantel has…elevated historical fiction as an art form... At a time when the general movement of literature has been towards the margins, she has taken us to the dark heart of history." ―The Times (London)
"Fascinating...What Mantel does, often brilliantly, is put movement and muscle on the bare bones of what’s known...[Cromwell’s] bundled contradictions―a polyglot scholar with bruised knuckles, as ruthless in business as he was benevolent at home―are more than mirror and light; they’re real, indelible life." ―Entertainment Weekly
"The Mirror & the Light [features] the embroiled, ruthless, visionary hero of Mantel’s masterwork trilogy, the endlessly compelling Thomas Cromwell...Every page is rich with insight, the soul-deep characterization and cutting observational skill that make Mantel’s trilogy such a singular accomplishment." ―USA Today
"Hilary Mantel has written an epic of English history that does what the Aeneid did for the Romans and War and Peace for the Russians...As Cromwell approaches his end, cast off by an ungrateful master, Mantel pulls together the strands of his life into a sublime tapestry." ―The Telegraph (UK)
"Cromwell is a character for the ages...The stunning success of the novels is in large part the result of Ms. Mantel’s skill in fashioning a voice and persona that, while never anachronistic, make Cromwell seem eerily contemporary...Mantel’s genius is to make his 16th-century instincts, such as a willingness to decapitate anyone standing in his path, seem as plausible as his more familiar qualities." ―The Economist
“The Mirror & the Light bears the stamp of Mantel’s genius; it’s a richly hued mural of meticulous research, enthralling characters, and expressionistic language. She is our literary Michelangelo. In Cromwell, a striver who will do anything to survive, she lets us glimpse the invention of modernity. Teeming with pageantry, intrigue, sex, and salvation, The Mirror & the Light reflects the looming tensions of every era, between those who hoard power and those who crave it.” ―O Magazine
"Mantel’s prose is rich and vivid…Mantel makes the past feel so immediate that it seems possible Cromwell might actually manage to save himself…Expectations are high for this novel. And it lives up to them." ―Vox
“Beautifully written…The book makes for compulsive reading; if it doesn’t win its author her third Booker Prize, there’s no justice.” ―St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Brilliant…. Mantel enthralls with her descriptions of royal life, from its bizarre rites and traditions to its practicalities…. Her research is prodigious, her skill at complex plotting breathtaking, but her greatest strength is her characters and the dialogue she imagines for them.” ―Tampa Bay Times
“This huge canvas, expertly painted as always, offers many of the pleasures you’ve come to expect of Mantel and her Cromwell books...Cromwell’s execution [is] a brilliantly imagined moment.” ―The New Yorker
"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)
"Mantel’s prose is steadily and quietly luminous, occasionally delivering unforgettable surprises...This is a worthy conclusion to what is undoubtedly one of the great historical fictions of the age, sustaining clarity, tension and depth with a rare consistency." ―New Statesman (UK)
"Mantel’s trilogy―historically scrupulous, but quaveringly alert to more recent resonances― is one of the key achievements in English literature.” ―The Spectator (UK)
"In Mantel’s hands, the story of the Tudors loses all its heavy familiarity and starts to feel like a custom-built vehicle for her muscular prose and savage wit, not to mention her lifelong concern with violence and evil, religion and ghosts...The page-by-page texture of the writing in The Mirror & the Light is just as rich and interesting as ever, the pacing and the distribution of scenes are just as lively, and the details every bit as funny...Mantel’s prodigious feat is to have given Cromwell another face, one that he might even have recognized as his own; she has cast a dazzling new light onto the tarnished mirror of the past." ―TLS (UK)
"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
"The longed-for final volume in Mantel’s magnificent trilogy is also a stupendously knowledgeable, empathic, witty, harrowing, and provocative novel of power and its distortions...Astute, strategic, sly, funny, poignant, and doomed, Cromwell rules these vivid pages, yet every character and setting resonates, and Mantel’s virtuoso, jousting dialogue is exhilarating...[A] timeless saga of the burden of rule, social treacheries, and the catastrophic cost of indulging a raving despot." ―Booklist (starred review)
- Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (March 10, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 784 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0805096604
- ISBN-13 : 978-0805096606
- Item Weight : 1.85 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.37 x 1.71 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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I might have to purchase the kindle version for reading and the hardback for reference. What a waste of $$
I'm sure I'll love the content.
I wonder if this was a special Amazon production or if all the copies are of such poor quality.
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.
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!
Top reviews from other countries
Also, Cromwell seemed different in this book. I am not even sure I can articulate how, just that the character somehow felt different, not the same old familiar Cromwell from the first two books.
In addition, some of the characters who loomed larger in the first two books were minor players in this novel, which was a little disappointing as I had hoped to see more of them and how they might react to the changing events. I realise the author had to tell the story through the eyes of characters close to events and that she didn’t always have a free hand, but I still felt disappointed that some of the central characters from the first two novels barely featured and that I didn’t really get any insight into what they might have felt or thought.
The writing was beautiful and I cannot deny the author’s writing talent or the amount of historical research that went into producing such a faithful recreation of the period. However, I have just been left feeling a little underwhelmed at the end of the day. This could be my fault for perhaps expecting too much from the book, or maybe I unconsciously had my own opinion of what I expected to read in the novel and because the result is different to that I am unjustifiably feeling disappointed in it? I don’t know to be honest. I just didn’t feel the burning love for this book that I did for the others in the trilogy. Maybe I will revisit it next year and go cover to cover again and change my opinion?
However, at the moment I feel that while it is a very good book it didn’t, for me, reach the same lofty heights as its predecessors. I hate to write that because I wanted to adore it, but I didn’t and that’s that.
The secret to reading a Mantel "Cromwell" novel is to suspend all rules of normal fiction-writing and bask in the flow. But don't apply that technique to her dreadful early work, A Place of Greater Safety, which I think is one of the most self-indulgent books I've ever valiantly ploughed through and thoroughly disliked. (A case of "twice as good at half the length" if ever there was one.) She has come a long, long way since then, and emerged on the side of the angels.
I shall give myself a few days' rest and then read "Mirror" entirely for the prose rather than the structure of the story, and let myself wallow in some of the sublime writing and insights. Of course there are tedious or confusing passages - nothing is perfect - but this is pretty damned brilliant and in a class of its own. Well worth waiting for...
1. Family trees..... E-readers have lower resolution so all books with maps, diagrams and family trees suffer from poor clarity of these items. If the work can withstand this then I buy it. I often download a book sample to see first. In this case as it invariably is, the book is worth reading regardless. If the illustrations need scrutinised then you can download a copy of the book into the kindle applicator on your PC, browser, or tablet. The family trees are perfectly viewable on them as they are on my Kindle Voyage.
2. Price. Cheaper is better however if you cannot wait for the price to fall on release of the paperback then you have a choice of the hardback or the ebook (50p more at the time of writing). I chose ebook this time and feel that launch price is worth paying for a book this good, from an author of such skill. The author and publisher deserve to be rewarded for their work. I am grateful for being given the chance to revisit the setting and the characters.
I intend to update this review on completing the book.