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The Mirror & the Light

(Thomas Cromwell #3)

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  19,741 ratings  ·  3,168 reviews
Sequel to both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, and concludes the story of Thomas Cromwell.
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Published March 10th 2020 by Macmillan Audio (first published March 5th 2020)
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Judith Or maybe, like me, people are old and are afraid they will never find out whether Thomas Cromwell dies at the end. JOKING!!
Just realized I stopped re…more
Or maybe, like me, people are old and are afraid they will never find out whether Thomas Cromwell dies at the end. JOKING!!
Just realized I stopped reading about 3/4 in about two weeks ago because I want to believe there is a different ending than in real history.(less)
Beth Just pre-ordered it on Amazon. Due out March 2020.
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  19,741 ratings  ·  3,168 reviews

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Mar 03, 2013 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-t-wait-books
I really don't understand how and why anyone would give an unpublished book 1 star (and 4,5 stars for that matter). Isn't it high time Goodreads did something about it?


Aaaand… he’s back. Thomas Cromwell aka ‘Cremuel’ aka ‘Crumb’ aka ‘he, Cromwell’ aka... ‘he’. The upjumped blacksmith’s boy, now Master Secretary, is newly elevated to Baron as The Mirror & The Light kicks off, a reward for his part in disposing of Anne Boleyn.

I could go into raptures about Mantel’s exceptional prose — here sinewy, there sweeping — or the finely detailed historical research, or her vivid, textured Tudor England setting: as close to time travel as lite
Adam Dalva
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It does not disappoint. It sticks the landing. And more: though it lacks the seductiveness of Wolf Hall, it gradually becomes the highpoint of the series. Mantel does the impossible here: she accelerates through time, expanding Thomas Cromwell's life in both directions as he ages and becomes haughty, as Henry VIII rushes through his wives, as England veers through myriad catastrophes in the backdrop.

Light spoilers will follow. What a relief for me to finally, 11 years after Wolf Hall, to read T
Violet wells
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could have a Hilary Mantel wish it would be that she writes a novel about Jane Rochford. I constantly found myself wishing Hilary had taken more interest in her. Was it perhaps because her and Anne were so similar that they were at loggerheads? Of all the women at court it seems to me she was the one who had the most venomous (and healthiest contempt) for Henry as a man; that she was the most thwarted by the paltry opportunities offered to women in 16th century England. I couldn't help feel ...more
Gumble's Yard
Simply magnificent – in my view the strongest of a Trilogy whose first two volumes were among the most deserving winners in Booker history.

It is no surprise to see this also longlisted.

A book which shines a light into history and in doing so holds up a mirror to our present day.

Last Winter, a group of colleagues from around the world visited the UK for an internal conference in Windsor and in a break from the formal proceedings we took a trip to Windsor Castle. One of the many interesting parts
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the Booker Prize Longlist!

A brilliant end to this superb historical trilogy on Cromwell, the ordinary man who rises to an exalted status under Henry VIII. Mantel’s research is impeccable, her blend of fact and fiction is extraordinary, nowhere is this more apparent than in her amazing characterisations. Despite knowing where this is all heading, the tension and suspense had me biting my nails! Simply marvellous and highly recommended.
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020
Still my favourite book of the year, and an absolute travesty that it missed the shortlist.

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

A monumental book that brings a brilliant series to a fitting conclusion.

I am neither a historian nor a writer, which means I am far from being the best person to review this book, nor does there seem much point writing in detail about the plot, most of which is documented history, so I would rather focus on personal impr
Sean Barrs
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an extraordinarily potent and beautifully written (if not quite perfect) conclusion to the trilogy

Here Mantel closes the book on Cromwell’s life, depicting his swift downfall in all its inglory, but she has remained unflinchingly conservative (to a fault?) telling the story of his demise. I will get to that later, firstly I want to talk about the tragedy she depicts here.

“What have I, but what my King gives me? Who am I. but who he has made me? All my trust is in him.”

It is t
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Superbly written but in my opinion less compelling than both the more daring, non-linear Wolfhall and the laser like focussed, pure key events tale of Bring Up The Bodies - 3.5 stars
We servants of the king must get used to games we cannot win but fight to an exhausted draw, their rules unexplained. Our instructions are full of snares and traps, which mean as we gain we lose. We do not know how to proceed from minute to minute, yet somehow we do, and another night falls on us in Greenwich, at Ham
Amalia Gkavea
“This is what life does for you in the end; it arranges a fight you can't win.”

Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Anne of Cleves. Three women that amply demonstrate the saturnine, obsessive and fickle nature of Henry VIII. However, in my opinion, it is the tragic figure of Thomas Cromwell that sheds light to the vast extent of the monarch’s madness and cruel, evil character. The man who shaped his ideal to restore England’s glory, the mentor, the one who managed to provide Henry with his so prec
Near the beginning of this book, there's a scene in which an exotic cat, imported from Damascus, tries to escape from the confines of Thomas Cromwell's garden in London by climbing a tree near the wall. As he watches his servants try to capture the cat with a net, Cromwell puts his money on the Damascene cat outwitting their attempts because, like her, he himself has travelled far to get where he is, and he would fight anyone who tried to remove him from his high position.

That particular cat was
I need more "He, Cromwell..." in my life.




Seriously, I cannot wait for this.

Paul Fulcher
Now thankfully dropped from the Booker at shortlist stage

The Mirror and the Light, and its over-hyped reception, encapsulates everything that is rotten with the state of much of British literary fiction (some wonderful independent publishers aside):

- a blind spot to the development of the novel in the 20th century and a fixation with the 19th century form (perhaps as it marked the highpoint of English literature) as if Kafka, Joyce, Musil, Woolf, Bernhard, Marquez etc had never written;
- an obse
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Throughout the whole of this amazing trilogy all I have been able to think about is what an incredible man Thomas Cromwell must have been and how well Hilary Mantel has portrayed him for us. She is an artist with words, giving the reader a clear visual picture of every one of the historical characters she introduces and there are many!

As an historical account of life in England between 1536 and 1540 The Mirror & the Light just sweeps the board. Every little detail is there - what they ate, how t
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary historical fiction fans
Recommended to Paula by: Women’s prize for fiction
Booker nominee 2020
Women’s Prize for Fiction nominee 2020

Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy is the finest piece of literary historical fiction I have had the pleasure of reading. I listened to the three audiobooks back-to-back and approached THE MIRROR & THE LIGHT with excitement and trepidation knowing what was to happen.

Book Three starts with Anne Boleyn’s execution. A part of history that Cromwell devised well on behalf of his king to make way for another queen. But Henry VIII’s newest q
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

If I wasn’t as absorbed in this work as I was in the first two, that’s not Hilary Mantel’s fault. Wizard that she is with words, she can’t change the times: neither the past nor the present.

Fairly early on I found myself wondering why I wasn’t as engaged. Then realization hit me: reading of powerful men whose every action is to appease a petty, egomaniacal tyrant while carving out power and possession for themselves is not conducive to mental health in our time of pandemic. Unlike Henry VIII
“This is what life does for you in the end; it arranges a fight you can't win.”

I don't think I ever rooted for and mourned a historical-fictional character the way I did Hilary Mantel's Cromwell and all the time I wished for a different outcome: him to be turning out forever victorious and death to his enemies!!!!


Of course I knew what was coming, but H. Mantel managed to lull me into a false feeling of safety, just as Cromwell allowed himself to feel after he was granted the Earldom of Essex and
Feb 28, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
One reviewer knocked the book, claimed Mantel savages the royals just to sell books. The book is not published yet! And for goodness sake, read the speech! Mantel obviously feels sorry for Kate, and the "free press" gleefully and intentionally misrepresented her comments to sell newspapers Who is guilty here? ...more
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant! A true monumental testimony to Hilary Mantel’s virtuosity. I just closed the book and it will take me a few days to recuperate from the last chapter which left me devastated. I thought this third novel of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy was the most personal one. I wish I could allot it the 10* rating which it deserves.
I feel like I have a love-hate relationship with Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell books, and that in the past I’ve perhaps been too generous in how I’ve rated them.

I love Mantel’s attention to detail. She has picked apart Cromwell’s life in her research, and woven a story of vivid colours, from the most famous matters of state down to his family and home life. One feels that she knows the lanes of London where Cromwell walks, understands the earnestly held opinions of the day rather than trying to force
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
It feels like we've been waiting for this one forever, but I think it's "only" five years or so.

I have never felt such kinship with G.R.R. Martin fans.

April 2020: It's come!
Roman Clodia
4.5 stars

I'm going to keep this short as fans of the first two books won't need any urging to read this; and if you didn't love them, then this one won't change your mind. In fact, rather than a trilogy, this feels like the third chapter of one huge story opening as it does mere seconds after the ending of Bring Up the Bodies.

I found this snarkier than the previous books as we're treated to more of Cromwell's inner commentary (listening to the audio book on my commute led to grins and embarrass
Emma Donoghue
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe not as dramatic a standalone as the first two Thomas Cromwell books, but to me the trilogy read like one long, thrilling immersion in a fine Renaissance mind in times of trouble.
Maria Espadinha
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cromwell’s Karma

*** For all the spoilers you’ll find in this review, you’ll have to blame Cromwell and the Tudors, definitely not me ***

Anne Boleyn is now dead, whilst Thomas Cromwell ascends to the top — he’s now the most powerful human of England, right after the king.

How can we relate both events?

Well... to fulfill a mandatory wish of his majesty the king Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell performed the dark genie part, whilst doing all the dirty work that led to Anne Boleyn’s decapitation. Hence, h
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I'm really sorry that I'm finished with this greatest trilogy there ever was in Historic Fiction. Hilary Mantel's retelling of Thomas Cromwell's life is accurate, enchanting and fascinating - due not only to the fact that it represents the ten years of English history which have probably shaped the country the most, but also because of her incredibly awesome writing style and storytelling. A big, fat round of applause for Hilary Mantel, everyone.

So, regarding the third book: yes,
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read “Wolf Hall,” three times and “Bring Up the Bodies,” twice, I was both excited, and apprehensive, at reading this, final volume, in the trilogy. For we all know the ending and, from the very first page, we are aware of the threat of the axe, and of Henry’s capricious nature, as we open with the execution of Anne Boleyn. She died, Cromwell later muses, expecting to be saved. Does hope ever really leave us?

Mantel combines brilliant writing with dark humour. When we come to Cromwell’s f
Eric Anderson
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can watch my video review where I take a trip to the Tower of London here:

What a journey! I've probably devoted more time to Mantel's Cromwell trilogy than I have to any other series of books since I not only read all 2,009 pages of the novels but also biographical and historical writing to better understand this time period. Though it required a lot of concentration and effort it was definitely worth it. I'm going to miss Cromwell whose soul searc
Sep 26, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
There should never be a book review before it is actually published. I have enjoyed and appreciate Goodreads but very disappointed that they would allow comments on an unwritten book. Really? Apparently, some oversight is needed.
May 22, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Finally it's announced!!! To be published on 5 March 2020, SO looking forward to it! ...more
I’m not normally someone to complain about over-long books (Trollope’s 800-odd pager The Way We Live Now, was one of my favourite reads of last year). I did feel at times, though, that The Mirror and the Light dragged, in a way I didn’t find with Mantel’s previous novels in this series—and not because the novel was less meticulously written or richly imagined than its predecessors. In many ways, in fact, I felt that the stylistic quality and consistency was better in The Mirror and the Light tha ...more
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Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of many novels including Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Bring Up the Bodies, Book Two of the Wolf Hall Trilogy, was also awarded the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award. She is also the author of A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, An Exper ...more

Other books in the series

Thomas Cromwell (3 books)
  • Wolf Hall
  • Bring Up the Bodies

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