Blog: A beginner’s guide to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy ·

with the imminent release of mirror and the light, the long-awaited sequel to hilary mantel’s wolf hall and bringing the bodies back, our crazy tudor resident and returns officer, amanda rayner, has compiled a short Q&A for newcomers to the series. .

what is the wolf hall trilogy?

the wolf hall trilogy is made up of three books: wolf hall (2009), bring the bodies (2012) and the mirror and the light (March 3, 2020). It is also sometimes referred to as the Thomas Cromwell series, but Hilary Mantel officially refers to it as the Wolf Hall Trilogy. books should be read in publication order.

why is the liberation of the mirror and the light so important?

because the mirror and the light is the last book of the trilogy.

You are reading: Hilary mantel books in order

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because the first two books have been excellent examples of great historical fiction, impeccably researched and highly imaginative.

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because mantel has taken a well-known era of tudor history and reimagined it by focusing on an integral historical figure from that era not normally put front and center in historical fiction. Thomas Cromwell is also a fascinating character: mentally sharp, loyal and strategic, resourceful and vindictive, and ultimately very human.

Because Mantel is highly regarded by readers, critics and her peers – Margaret Atwood is a huge fan.

and oh yes, because the first two books individually won the booker award. Of course, what we ultimately want from the final book is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, but it’s hard not to get a little excited about the fact that she could win the booker again. but we’ll talk about that later: the book hasn’t been published yet!

what is it about?

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The trilogy (set during the reign of Henry VIII) covers the life of Thomas Cromwell (a lawyer) who was born around 1485 and died on July 28, 1540. The novels focus on the time he initially spent working for lord chancellor thomas cardinal wolsey and slowly worked his way up to become the king’s favorite from the early 1530s. signal. He was a great supporter of the English reformation and a key player in the downfall of Anne Boleyn. However, Cromwell was eventually executed by order of the King in 1540. The Mirror and Light focus on the last four years of his life.

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what if i only read non-fiction about tudor history?

I’m a huge fan of tudor history and as a general rule now only read non-fiction books on the subject, but the wolf hall trilogy is an exception. Unless readers are dead set against historical fiction of any kind, fans of the Tudors should find the trilogy (or at least what we’ve been able to read so far!) clever, clever, and unsettling.

do i need to know anything about tudor history before i start the series?

The feedback I’ve heard from people who have started wolf hall with no prior knowledge is that they feel a bit lost. This is largely because you’re entering the reign of Henry VIII at a specific point and not from the beginning. most things you can learn as you go, but I think it’s important to do some reading on what is commonly known as “the king’s big deal”.

as a very quick summary, henry viii wanted to divorce his first wife, catherine of aragon, so he could marry anne boleyn, who refused to be just his lover. in the catholic church, henry needed a special dispensation from the pope for a divorce that was denied. Henry then argued that the marriage should be annulled because it went against a passage in the Bible that forbade a man to marry his brother’s widow (Katherine was originally married to Henry’s older brother, Arthur, before he died, but she swore they never consummated the marriage). Henry sought the help of his almoner and Lord Chancellor Cardinal Wolsey (for whom Cromwell worked) during this time and when Wolsey was unable to negotiate a solution, Henry grew increasingly frustrated. There is much more to this famous historical event, but this is essentially the point where (after a brief introduction to Cromwell’s upbringing) Wolf Hall begins.

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book the mirror and light online and receive a free copy of mantel’s novel about the french revolution, a place of greater security. Pre-orders will ship on March 5, 2020. This special offer is available only while supplies last.

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