is a novel by Hilary Mantel told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, one of Henry VIII's favourite advisors in the 1530s. It portrays him much more positively than most fictional depictions of Cromwell tend to, as a generally nice guy with extraordinary talents and a good sense of humour who just happens to occasionally do some morally ambiguous things to keep favour with his king. It won the 2009 Man Booker Prize, as did its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies
, in 2012. A third book, The Mirror and the Light
, is expected in the next couple of years.Probably a reasonable paperweight
, if you're going to abuse it in such a way.
This book has examples of:
- Adipose Rex: Henry VIII's getting there. Hans Holbein at one point wonders whether it would be more appropriate to paint Henry as he was five years ago, or ten. Cromwell: 'Stick to five. He'll think you're mocking him.'
- Anti-Hero: Cromwell. Or Anti-Villain. Or Villain Protagonist . It gets more and more difficult to tell as it goes on.
- Asshole Victim: All the men accused of being Anne's lovers in "Bring Up the Bodies".
- Brother-Sister Team: Anne and George Boleyn. It doesn't go well for them.
- Doorstopper: At 672 pages, it was the longest novel to win the Man Booker until beaten by The Luminaries in 2013.
- The Consigliere: Cromwell might be this for Henry VIII - or The Dragon, depending on whether they're seen as good or evil.
- Corrupt Church
- Friendly Enemies: Cromwell and Chapuys, though they're not enemies per se in that they belong to different factions but don't actively work against one another.
- The Hero Dies: Not yet, but guaranteed to happen in the last book, seeing as Thomas Cromwell was executed in 1540.
- Historical-Domain Character: Pretty much everyone in the book, the exceptions being most of Cromwell's servants and a few more minor characters.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Cromwell.
- Interrogated for Nothing: Mark Smeaton. Cromwell knows he didn't really sleep with Anne Boleyn, but he needs people to convict. The fact that Mark took part in the 'Sending the Cardinal to Hell' masque really didn't help his case, either.
- Mysterious Past: Between leaving England at roughly fifteen (after reportedly stabbing and killing someone) and returning to it about a decade and a half later, we know very little about what Cromwell was doing; we know he completely changed as a person, visited many European cities, and fought in a war (for the French!) but he refuses to talk to anyone else in any detail about anything he saw or did in those years.
- One Steve Limit: Averted.
- Shown Their Work: The books are filled with details about the exact make-up of Tudor England.
- Title Drop: Wolf Hall is an alternative spelling for Wulfhall, an estate owned by the Seymours. It comes up a couple of times towards the end.
- Take That: Thomas More is portrayed as being a religious fanatic and extremely controlling towards his wife and family, in contrast to his generally very positive portrayal in other media. The book feels like a deliberate takedown of / counterpoint to A Man For All Seasons.
- Unreliable Narrator: While not lying to himself exactly, Cromwell definitely tends to skip over the less morally sound parts of his thought processes. It is implied at the end of Bring Up The Bodies that he chose the five men charged with adultery with Anne because they took part in the 'Sending The Cardinal To Hell' masque, but this is never brought up in the narration while he's actually doing the organising.
- Unscrupulous Hero: Cromwell definitely has a chequered past and does manage to get several of his enemies executed.