Friday, November 29, 2019

Book Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Personally, I hate reading series where all the books aren't out yet. For one thing, not every author can decently end a story. For another, on occasion, those series never end at all for one reason for another. Most importantly, I have a crap memory, and so I really want to read them all more or less in a row or else I'll forget too much if I have a year or more in between. As this book came out 10 years ago and the final one int he trilogy comes out after the holidays, I'd have had to have a masterful memory to make that work! But I heard the third was coming and so I knew I could finally get started. And as they're all chunksters (this one is just over 600 pages), I will need all that lead time.

Thomas Cromwell at the beginning of the book is a little kid, constantly getting in trouble with his blacksmith father, being beaten to a bloody pulp on frequent occasions. He runs away, goes to sea, and comes back a successful cloth trader having worked in Europe. He quickly becomes a landowner, a leader in his town, befriends Cardinal Woolsey who is King Henry VIII's primary adviser, and is on an upward trajectory that seems to know no end. He survives the downfall of Woolsey, gains the confidence of Anne Boleyn, is promoted a dozen more times, and manages somehow to be a strongman, a Lazarus, and a shaman of sorts, all at once. Everyone hates him, everyone wants him on their side, he charms everyone (that he wants to) even when they're certain they could never be charmed by such a shyster as him. It's a brilliant eye into the heart of power, with all its egos, machinations, emotions, complications, manipulations, and chaos. I can't wait to start book 2.

This book is published by Henry Holt, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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