If You Cannot Speak Truth At A Beheading, When Can You Speak ItEngland, May 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 CravesCromwell 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


10 thoughts on “The Mirror & the Light

  1. Nermin Nermin says:

    I really don t understand how and why anyone would give an unpublished book 1 star and 4,5 stars for that matter Isn t it high time Goodreads did something about it


  2. Marchpane Marchpane says:

    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 literature gets But the real tr 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 literature gets But the real triumph of this trilogy is the use of perspective, which reaches its acme in this final instalmentHe, CromwellThis is the special sauce, this close 3rd person It s how we ride around on Cromwell s shoulder, seeing everything from his unique point of view It is not objective It s immediate and intimate It is also, for some readers, a major irritant, but if you have made it to book 3 you re at least used to it by now.In this final volume we go deeper into Cromwell s psyche than we have ventured before He s a lotreflective, not regretful exactly he s too pragmatic for that but he s seen things, done things, that prick his conscience and these things dwell in the tenebrous corners of his mind Spectres of the past Harbingers of what s to come.Every now and then we take wing, arise from Cromwell s shoulder and soar above the barges on the Thames, over the fields of Britain, or the alehouses where sedition foments Sometimes his thoughts lead us further into the past, to times of heroes, saints or Roman invaders And always he s exhuming, turning over memories,recent history Venice, all slick cobblestones and mist or Putney on a murky night, a cellar and a knife As we loop back to scenes from the earlier books, our view is shifted ever so slightly, casting light in new places, where fresh details glint and catch the eye Which means The Mirror The Light isn t merely a continuation of this story, it also enfolds and contains everything that came before, adding richness and complexity to the whole At around 900 pages, this is nothing if not comprehensive There is much minutiae of politics, religious reform, scheming and conspiring, and a huge cast of characters, all of which will no doubt test the patience of some readers But this is it, fin, no , and so ardent fans, savour every page of this masterful, shining achievement


  3. Adam Dalva Adam Dalva says:

    It does not disappoint It sticks the landing Andthough 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 It does not disappoint It sticks the landing Andthough 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 Thomas Cromwell s wikipedia page And Henry s, and Queen Jane s, and all the rests.We open with Anne Boelyn s death it s a bit of a stagger, assuming, like me, you haven t read Bringing up The Bodies again, and you finished in 2012 There s a curious effect here I remember the characters faintly, spirits from long ago, but after the initial slog of figuring out who everyone was again, they seemed axiomatic Mantel s Henry VIII is a particularly indelible character, whose caprices, weight, and self regard shift and expand as the book draws along, as the unseen net begins to circle around Cromwell As effective as the great scenes of court the future Queen Mary and the delightful ambassador Chapuys crackle especially are, Cromwell s early childhood memories, particularly those with the eel boy, an oft referenced interaction that takes harrowing form at book s end, spark just as well Cromwell is the beating heart of this, his unconscious voice and his dialogue flowing in and out of the text in a way that seems effortless and shows Mantel s absolute mastery of her famous lead He is a broad, fascinating character a moving scene with the daughter of his former master, Cardinal Wolsey, is partnered with a bizarre, fascinating rant about how effectively he keeps the books The ending, which I won t spoil, is gorgeous, unique, and smart.This is an ideal series for our life in quarantine, with soap opera twists and a fascinating educational aspect, though I will caution that there are quite a few scenes of plague related plots An attendant becomes sick The court makes sure to find who he has been in contact with, to keep them at home I, here in whatever 2020 has become, felt time collapse


  4. Violet wells Violet wells says:

    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 takeninterest 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 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 takeninterest 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 feeling that it was with a riotous fatalistic glee that she eventually encouraged Catherine Howard to cuckold Henry As if the angry feminist in her had had enough of all the patriarchal condescension and bullying I would imagine very few people are going to read this as a stand alone novel Hilary had already done all the hard work with the first two books We all know what will happen to Cromwell but Hilary s skill in brushing almost every early detail with foreboding is masterful As in the best thrillers it s like every detail radiates the importance of a consummating clue Cromwell s demise is potently present throughout this book and this in large part is due to how brilliantly Mantel weaves detail into a kind of alternative tapestry whose story Cromwell can t see but we the reader can Her decision to posit the narrative voice just above but not quite within Cromwell is paramount in making this split so subtle and dramatically effective For one thing, it heightens our protective instincts towards him You can tell Hilary didn t want to finish this She continually procrastinates, she lingers lovingly over every passage, if anything she indulges stillher love of the detail of the fabric of 16th century English life Meditation plays a bigger part in this novel Urgency is the last thing on her mind In fact, this novel is outrageously long considering how little actually happens in his personal life all the women have now exited the stage, Hilary has already exhausted Cromwell s memories and he forms no new relationship of much interest an invented daughter adds nothing to Cromwell s character and wasn t for me entirely successful he is simply left to repeat the same battles with his old enemies and come to terms with his ghosts But Mantel performs two marvels here one is to show how Cromwell s relationship with his past subtly change as the pressures of court politics begin to wear him down As he becomes outwardly less vigilant he becomes inwardlyfinely tuned She kind of ghosts in the possibility that in his mind his downfall isn t entirely undue given how many downfalls he himself has presided over Resignation begins to undo him The other is to show how the significance of detail changes with time One of the most exhilarating moments of the novel is when we learn what details are being used to bring Cromwell down These details return to us electrified At least, it was lovingly lingered over until Cromwell s arrest His fall from grace was so abrupt I was left feeling a bit cheated We saw it coming why didn t he It s also a bit disconcerting how she hurries through his imprisonment I thought she might have madepoignant drama of his last days and the ghosts of his life Though I loved it that he travelled back to Tuscany in his mind I would imagine one of the most difficult decisions for a novelist is choosing at what point in the text you re going to insert your material, especially with regards to a character s memories I perhaps felt she might have made better use of some of these at the end But suddenly, from not wanting to finish it, she seems in a hurry to get it over and done with Probably though I felt cheated simply because I didn t want it to end There s little question Hilary has raised the bar where historical fiction is concerned I watched The Tudors while reading this and it seemed like vulgar slapstick pantomime in comparison I was appalled when Cromwell is shown laughing at the burlesque of Wolsey And you sense, after Mantel, never again will that interpretation be possible She s also perhaps even raised the bar where Tudor documentaries are concerned I also watched a series about Henry VIII s six wives and was struck by how facile and flimsily but self importantly subjective it was Mantel s great achievement is to give us the illusion that only she has foraged through to the truth about Cromwell, Henry VIII and the Tudor court She entered Cromwell s heart and soul with such remarkably penetrating intimacy that it was like she was writing about a member of her own family I suspect one reason she was able to identify so closely with Cromwell is the love of detail they clearly share


  5. Gumble& Gumble& says:

    Simply magnificent in my view the strongest of a Trilogy whose first two volumes were among the most deserving winners in Booker history.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 of the Tour for me was St George s Hall and Simply magnificent in my view the strongest of a Trilogy whose first two volumes were among the most deserving winners in Booker history.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 of the Tour for me was St George s Hall and its ceiling studied with the coats of arms of every Knight of the Garter since its foundation in 1348 I say every Knight but in fact some of the shields are numbered but blank these I was told represent Knights expelled from the order in the early days typically accompanied by execution , and I enjoyed conversing with one of the guides asking which Knight each shield represented and seeing if I could identify the reason for their expulsion I particularly remember a conversation around the Earl of Monmouth and how his expulsion for trying to overthow a King who only a few years later was overthrown to popular acclaim, was itself a perfect example of revolution in the true and original meaning of the word and the wheel of fortune.One of the shields of course represents Thomas Cromwell his election by the King into the order being one of the high points both of this book and Cromwell s career if in some ways designed to legitimized Cromwell s being effectively made the King s Uncle with the marriage of Gregory to Lady Ughtred the Queen s widowed Sister And the idea of Cromwell as something of a blank canvas is one which partly lies at the heart of the conception of this fabulous trilogy Mantel writing what must rank as one of the greatest character studies of all time, of a character who as his biographer Diarmaid MacCullough says is elusive even for a historian due to what he believes to bedeliberate destruction when Cromwell s household heard of his arrest they began a systematic process of destroying the out tray of his principle archiveThe result is thatamid the torrent of paperwork through which the conscientious biographer wades to recapture what is left of Thomas Cromwell, the man s own voice is largely missingHe then goes on to sayHilary Mantel has sensitively captured this quality in Thomas Cromwell s archive in her novels her Cromwell is pre eminently an observer, even of himself, not I but he .But in a different way Cromwell is not a blank canvas at all Any historian writes with the background of previous biographers as well as other historians who have included Cromwell often far from sympathetically in wider accounts of this pivotal period in not just English, but World history And any novelist writes similarly on top of previous fictional realisations of Cromwell perhaps most notably the pro More, anti Cromwell account of A Man of All Season , an account which I can only comment seems to make as a hero a man who died in an attempt to ensure common Englishmen could not read the Gospel and was canonised as a result.So this trilogy is not just a novel but a palimpsest and in this last section of the trilogy Mantel brings the idea of history being re written, re evaluated but always in a way which can only imperfectly erase previous versions out explicitly We have for example The frequent references to the devices of the fallen Queens and their intertwined initials with Henry s, needing constant repainting Cromwell s interrogation taking place in a room he decoratedfor Anne Boleyn to lodge before her coronation It was he who reglaxed them, and ordered the godesses on the walls who had their eyes changed from brown to blue when Jane Seymour came inAs the book nears its end Cromwell first due to the strictures of fever and then his imminent death, revisits his life story Mantel accompanies the reader on a revisit of the previous two volumes in one bravura section of only 2 3 pages we have both the opening and closing sentences of Wolf Hall repeated we also get the full story behind the opening and the young Cromwell s escape abroad And Cromwell is very conscious of it as he attempts to re model EnglandCan you make a new England You can write a new story You can write new texts and destroy the old ones, set the torn leaves of Duns Scotus sailing about the quadrangles, and place the gospels in every church You can write on England, but what was written before keeps showing throughAnd finally this idea that history is written in layers, is the reason why this fabulous trilogy is so vital and despite its historical fiction nature, of far greater relevance to today s world than the supposedlycontemporary fiction that surrounds us.While reading the trilogy a third re read of the first volume, a second re read of the second I came across the following quote in the New Statesman taken from a letter written to Machiavelli a contemporary of Cromwell and whose book increasingly features as the trilogy progressesI earnestly believe that only men s faces and the outwards aspect of things change, while the same things reoccur again and again Thus we are witnessing events that happened earlier But the alteration in names and outward aspects is such that only the most learned are able to recognise them That is why history is a useful and profitable discipline, because it shows you and allows you to recognise what you ve never seen and experiencedSince the trilogy started we have had the following Brexit and the divides both without and within Europe, Nick Timothy Fiona Hill Dominic Cummings, metoo, Trump, Covid 19, Fake News, AusterityMy view was that the main themes of this trilogy, are the following areas of the 16th Century Swings in Britain s relationships with Europe, tension between the countries in Britain on that topic, shifting power blocs in Continental Europe itself The North South divide of the Pilgrimage of Grace Advisors and councillors to leaders their rise, fall and their emnities Sexual harassment and belittling and subjugation of women Braggart leaders with self esteem issues emerging in fiery denunciations of their critics Plagues hitting London Manipulation of news sources, propaganda and debates around what is true and what isn t Government spending cuts impacting on the poor and the tension with the well off as to whether they should support the less fortunateJust an example Interesting for those of us in the UK in late May to reflect on what happens when an advisor on whom a leader completely relies for political judgment and did his European policy alienates large parts of the country including the people, powerful Bishops and other politicians and then behaves in a way which both outraged them further and gives them an opening to being him down No Rose Garden press conference herean interrogation in the the Tower by the agents of the Tudor Rose Interesting for those of us in the UK this weekend to reflect on what happens when an advisor on whom a leader completely relies for political judgment and did his European policy alienates large parts of the country including the people, powerful Bishops and other politicians and then behaves in a way which both outraged them further and gives them an opening to being him down No Rose Garden press conference herean interrogation in the the Tower by the agents of the Tudor Rose If only Cromwell had thought to explain his fondness for sourcing Lutheran texts as just to help with checking his eyesight only Cromwell had thought to explain his fondness for sourcing Lutheran texts as just to help with checking his eyesight ORIGINAL NOTESI attended an event at the Royal Festival Hall tonight to launch the book The evening started with two of the actors from the TV series reading first from Wolf Hall and then Bring Up The Bodies Then Hilary Mantel read the opening part of The Mirror and The Light She then had a long, detailed and very informative interview with the journalist Alex Clark and finished the evening by reading almost the end of the book p866 if you have a written copy A few points I found of interest and remembered I did not take notes so I missed muchOn the length of the book she emphasised that readers were not reviewers they did not need to rush to finish the book in 48 hours so they could write a review Some on Goodreads may disagree In particular the book is deliberately set out in five main parts before the closing Mirror and Light chapters dealing respectively with Cromwell s death and execution Each of the parts is in three sections mirroring the trilogy and structured with an arc something like a novel In other words she is encouraging people to read one section at a time While writing the book she was in regular dialogue with Diarmaid MacCullouch and the biography he was writing I read they biography earlier on the year and it sounds like it is an ideal companion as they used many of the same sources Intriguingly she mentioned that all six wives feature in the book I was unclear if book in this context meant The Mirror and The Light or the three volumes she said elsewhere in the evening that she often talks about the book and even Wolf Hall meaning all three of the novels as separately published In particular she said that the sixth wife Catherine Parr is in The Mirror and The Light and not all readers will find her but you will be very pleased with yourself if you do So there is a challenge UPDATE a fairly easy one by most accounts The writing of the plays had a big impact on her in particular realising the importance of placement in a scene reflecting the power dynamics and of how and where dialogue is spoken changing its meaning The influence of this involvement which happened after the first two books were published changed the way she wrote this third book Often when starting a scene idea she would imagine how she would write it if she had two actors on a stage and two pieces of dialogue and then expand it from there She still regards her most impressive achievement as explaining the French East India Company scandal in A Place of Greater Safety and when faced with difficulties in this book with how to represent difficult ideas which werecommon here than in the first two volumes she reminded herself that you are the woman who She regards her rewriting of the historical consensus verdict on Cromwell as a bad man, as a long overdue correction to an incorrect view perpetuated in secondary sources and which did not stand up when going back to primary sources From writing the books she has gained a profound respect for those who fought for the reformation and the Gospel in England and has come on a journey much closer to a faith herself The book is full of references back to images, ideas and scenes in the first two books Every character has its arc Every pigeon comes home to roost The night before she finished the book she did not sleep as she felt all of the characters coming back to her demanding she accounted for completing their journey The next morning went she went down her picture of Henry VIII had fallen from her wall, which have her the sense that The character of Cromwell had our survived even Henry and gave her the impetus to write the closing chapter which wasof an assembly job as she had already written it in pieces From the first conception of the book she had always imagined it bookended with the So now get up


  6. Hugh Hugh says:

    Shortlisted for the Women s Prize for Fiction 2020, probably the first of many.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 impressions.As in the earlier books, whatever we may feel about her take on his motivations, Mantel s Shortlisted for the Women s Prize for Fiction 2020, probably the first of many.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 impressions.As in the earlier books, whatever we may feel about her take on his motivations, Mantel s Cromwell is a brilliantly realised and very human character, for all the barbarity that survival in such times required Once again, he is mostly described in the third person, either as he, or he with a job title Lord Privy Seal for most of the book and Essex at the end.The story is bookended by two beheadings we start where Bring Up the Bodies finished at the execution of Anne Boleyn, and we finish with Cromwell s own demise though there is a brief chapter at the end which explains what happened to the real people who were still alive at this point, and my Waterstones edition also has a brief note on some of the locations Mantel visited while researching the book and how they affected her perceptions He, the protagonist, is increasingly haunted by his own past, both the people and the events that shaped him, which enables Mantel to revisit key moments from the first two books All six of Henry s wives appear, though the last two Catherines are peripheral characters As always there is plenty of humour, the language is lively, and Mantel s grasp of period detail is impressive, at least to a non expert The dialogue retains just enough archaic language to be plausible without ever becoming difficult to follow There are a surprising number of issues that have contemporary relevance.The core story is in six parts, each of which consists of three chapters except the last, which has just two These chapters vary in length from a few pages to over 100.Mantel saves the best for part six, which starts with Cromwell s arrest and imagines the interrogation, the way his allies deserted him and the way his own life is distorted just as he distorted those he sought to destroy A must read book which will almost certainly bring Mantel further prizes


  7. Paromjit Paromjit says:

    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 thisapparent 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.


  8. Desirae Desirae says:

    I needHe, Cromwell in my life.Seriously, I cannot wait for this I needHe, Cromwell in my life.Seriously, I cannot wait for this


  9. Sean Barrs Sean Barrs says:

    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 hereWhat have I, but what my King gives me Who am I but who he has made me All my trust is in himIt is t 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 hereWhat have I, but what my King gives me Who am I but who he has made me All my trust is in himIt is trust misplaced in a false and ungrateful vessel The entirety of Henry s reign is stained with treachery, divorces, and murder He elevated those useful to him and then destroyed them when they no longer were successful or could no longer achieve the impossible All Henry s advisers played off each other, fighting for the most power and sway over the King They tried to set each other up for massive falls and the King let them do it, so they did not unite against him and continued to serve his whims Above them all, though, stands Thomas Cromwell in skill, ability, and loyalty At least, that is the version Mantel portrays He gained much from Henry and gave evenwith his service There are advantages he could have taken, favours he could have asked, but he does not get above himself and is simply rewarded lavishly for his success at court and the promises he has kept to his sovereign His common birth has granted him an insane work ethic that many others that have been in his position could not match And as such he works tirelessly for his King and country The Cromwell here has no sense of personal advancement or ambition It is done out of honest duty That is enoughI hear you are Privy Seal You climb so fast, my lord, the kingdom has no ladders enough We all know the proverbs about those that climb too high Cromwell always played a dangerous game He had no family, no status, only his skill as a politician kept him in the King s favour And when that skill dried up, or he failed because of powers out of his control, his usefulness dried up So, he is branded a traitor and murdered The Cromwell here is totally innocent but I do wonder how different the real Cromwell was I feel Mantel has been somewhat unusually conservative here I have always found the way she writes unique The first time I read Wolf Hall I found it totally inaccessible and really had to take my time with it Here, though, she seems to have reigned in some of her flair and artsy syntax to tell her story with precision and focus This spans many years rather than the narrow focus she has used before And it still works and it still retains much of its charm and eloquence of expression, but it is still conservative, conservative in its representation of Cromwell and his downfall A degree of openness would have given the story a littleedge and possibility Cromwell here is innocent and loyal Mantel clearly favours him but the history surrounding his actual demise is somewhat murkier Henry was fickle and easily swayed so Cromwell s rivals were not hard pressed to convince him of Cromwell s treachery But I do wonder if he genuinely believed them or if it was merely a convenient excuse to ride himself of a stale minister I just cannot fully buy into the idea of his total innocence because I cannot believe in the notion of a selfless politician in Tudor England Either way, the final few chapters were fantastically well delivered as this series concludes poetically _________________________________You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.__________________________________


  10. Fionnuala Fionnuala says:

    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 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 never mentioned again, but the scene remained in my mind, and I found myself looking out for further scenes involving cats Part of the motivation was curiosity to see how far Hilary Mantel can push a metaphor but another part of my motivation involved finding reasons to keep reading this book I had been completely charmed by the writing in Wolf Hall, and evenenthralled by Bring Up the Bodies so it was a surprise to me to find that I was a reluctant reader in the early chapters of this third book in the Cromwell series I wondered if it was because in this book, Cromwell is older, tireder, and consequently the reader needs to worry for him When he backs away from a fire, for instance, I worried When he remembers the light shining on the blade of Anne Boleyn s executioner s sword, I worried When he gets a fever, I worried When he starts making mistakes, I almost gave up.I also found myself concerned for Hilary Mantel s well being I wondered how she could bear the double strain helping Cromwell outwit his enemies and simultaneously outwitting her own fatigue in the face of the huge task she set herself here But she has succeeded marvelously As one of the characters says, so many words and oaths and deeds, that when folks read of them in time to come they will hardly believe such a man as Lord Cromwell walked the earth.Or such a writer as Hilary Mantel Although slowed down by my anxieties for both Cromwell and Mantel, I continued to read with increasing pleasure , and continued to keep an eye out for cats Soon I came across an episode where Cromwell talks of having had seven lives so far, now that he s been promoted to the office of Privy Seal But then I worried that he d be promoted again He was.As well as cats, there are similes and metaphors involving birds A character is shown working through a mass of paperwork like a raven through a rubbish heap Stab, stab, stab with his pen, not a beak till everything before him is minced or crushed or shattered like a snail shell burst on a stone. The reader will have reason to remember raven like Richard Riche.Further on, another all black bird called a chough was mentioned The chough is known for its extraordinary manoeuvrability in flight and its unusual faithfulness to its nesting site We learn that Cromwell has placed a chough on his family s coat of arms because it was Cardinal Wolsey s emblem, and Cromwell is utterly faithful to Wolsey, his first master Like the chough, Cromwell is very good at manoeuvring he can twist and turn events to his advantage, and even people s minds, especially the king s But Cromwell has to twist and turn to evade his hoard of enemies too, and there s a fine description of a deer hunt which describes his position well Hart may ruse, and he may fly, he may plunge into the chilly stream, but the hounds run on and never changeand as they run, they revile him, baying their taunts in a language he can understand, calling him a varlet and a knave In normal hunting practice, the hart has a fair chance to escape but as the king gets too heavy and too unfit to ride his horse to the hunt, the rules of the hunt are adapted, and the deer are driven to where the king stands with his crossbow ready The reader fears that the only way for his enemies to trap Cromwell will involve such foul means.In Bring Up the Bodies, there was an extended falconry metaphor which I enjoyed a lot because in that book Cromwell was always the hunter and his enemies were always the prey As this book progresses, the enemies increase constantly and appear in the most unlikely places One of those enemies is described as a hawk What s she Margaret Pole doing Needlework, like any beldame Her hawk s profile is lowered over her work, as if she is pecking it Margaret says, You are a snake, Cromwell Oh no, no, no A dog, madam, and in your scent.If he s to be hunted, he ll be hunter too Besides the allusions to various creatures in that scene, there s also another style element that I d begun to noticeandFrom the beginning of this trilogy, Hilary Mantel has used a third person narrative but with a first person point of view, and during this volume, the third person voice has morphedandinto a first person voice So I wasn t surprised when, at about the half way mark, a we voice begins to appear He has been waiting for a clear day to see the apple trees prunedThe middle of the tree we call the crown We take out any shoots that are frictious against each other, those that are growing backwards, inwards, any way they shouldn t. This passage occurs during a period when Cromwell is busy suppressing rebellion in the north of the country and it is easy to see the resemblance between the pruning process and the rooting out of rebellious factions Later we find that he is keeping a sort of journal which he refers to as The Book Called Henry I wondered if the we sections that had crept into the narrative were Mantel s clever merging of her book with his I even wondered at times if Mantel had herself merged completely with her character At one point he advises his nephew who works in the king s chambers, to use everything, discard nothing The reader feels Mantel has used everything she found while researching her subject, and discarded nothing I made a lot of margin notes while reading this book but now I think I ll discard the rest of them as the review is too long already Incidentally, there was a reference to margin notes which caught my eye, being someone who uses the margins of her books freely When an English version of the Bible was being prepared for printing, the printers were asked to set the line to the edge of the page because, as Cromwell says, it does not make for a good appearance, but no white space means no perversion by marginalia.I m afraid my copy of The Mirror and the Light has been greatly perverted Henry VIII by Hans Holbein who has a cameo role in the narrative Cromwell seemed to imply that Holbein had slimmed the regent down considerably Even so, he s a massive figure Pity the poor horses that had to bear his weight.