Why did I love this book?
From its first sentence, Mantel’s novel grabs you and plunges you deep into the world of 16th-century England in all its astounding cruelty and visceral complexity. It doesn’t let go until, really, the last sentence of the third book in her Tudor trilogy, more than a thousand pages later. Part of the brilliance of this novel is Mantel’s choice of Thomas Cromwell as her protagonist. Cast as the villain in the standard account of Henry VIII’s tumultuous reign, the blacksmith’s son who became a king’s confidante is shown here to be a man before his time: committed to his beliefs but utterly pragmatic, ambitious, shrewd, loyal, far more interested in talent than heredity; in other words, modern, our ancestor, for better or for worse. Mantel’s gimlet-eyed view and razor wit make every page a total pleasure, even those dealing with some of the very darkest aspects of this time and place.