The rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell
Illustration for The Boston Globe book review of "The Mirror and the Light " Hilary Mantel’s new novel. the final part of a planned trilogy charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, the powerful minister in the court of King Henry VIII. It’s an absolutely astounding character study of a man at mid-life, reconciling who he was (the blacksmith’s boy/ruffian/killer) with who he has become (a statesman and, really, a man of faith), trying to balance his loyalties to Henry or to his reformist faith. (The title refers to Henry, but light also is used to refer to faith, particularly Tyndale). Ultimately, of course, these come into conflict and bring him down. The book opens seconds after Ann Boleyn’s beheading and ends with his.