Mantel’s Booker-award winning Wolf Hall was intended as the first of a pair of books, but this second volume grew and now a third book will be needed to wrap up this wonderfully-imagine life of Thomas Cromwell, the infinitely versatile right hand of Henry VIIII. Mantel writes in first person present, and does it with such grace and dexterity that one these stylistic acrobatics soon fade into the background. The plotting is so dexterous that one never suspects a scene to be contrived to provide exposition or to lay the groundwork for what comes next, and Mantel manages with ease to place postmodern reflections on narrative, meaning, and memory into the context of Tudor political intrigue.