Did you make?
Three mammoth books about a fascinating time in history, full of dastardly deeds, changing allegiances and power struggles. A time when loyalty was the name of the game. Treason was the crime. Death by execution the end result.
We are all dying, just at different speeds.
The pall of death and dying hangs heavy over The Mirror and the Light. From the opening sentence we are constantly reminded of those no longer with us and the precarious nature of trying to stay alive during Tudor times. Whether it be plague, childbirth, tuberculosis, poverty, accident, battle or public execution; celebrating your fiftieth birthday was a huge achievement.
We all know how this will end for our hero, Cromwell. The point in reading The Mirror and the Light, therefore, is the journey that Mantel takes us on to get there. What lessons will he learn? What truths will emerge? Which memories will become important? Who should he trust or distrust? What are their motivations? How do his stories change with new insight, maturity and time?
I will post a review, hopefully in the next week or so for The Mirror and the Light, quickly followed by a post about The Wolf Hall Companion (that I read in conjunction with the trilogy).
I certainly found it a useful and worthwhile thing to (re)read the first two books before starting on The Mirror and the Light. Mostly for all the names. It wasn’t just their names but all their respective titles that one had to keep straight. The cast of characters listed at the beginning of the third book had doubled since the previous books, including a list of the recently dead.
To those who travelled with me on this four month journey through Henry VIII’s England, thank you. I have enjoyed your company, thoughtful comments and encouragement here and on Twitter.
If you would like me to add your reviews of Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies and/or The Mirror And The Light to the final list, please link your reviews in the comments below. Current and historic posts welcome. Revisionism encouraged.
Written at the Tower this Wednesday, the last of June, with the heavy heart and trembling hand of your Highness’s most heavy and most miserable prisoner and poor slave,
Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy!
(written by Cromwell from his room at the Tower of London on the 30th June 1540 to Henry VIII)D. Starkey | Rivals in Power: Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties | 1990.