Details: no. 1 Thomas Cromwell Saga
This was a fascinating book, telling the story of Thomas Cromwell and his rise to a powerful position in the court of Henry VIII.
In England in the 1520's King Henry finds himself with a male heir, with a wife unlikely to conceive again, and in love with Anne Boleyn.
When the king decides his marriage of 20 years needs to be annulled so that he may be free to marry Anne, he puts his advisor in an impossible position, caught between his king and the Pope, which will lead to his downfall.
Thomas Cromwell, a man from a very humble background and with a checkered and mysterious past, works for Wolsey and loves his patron. Yet, he steps into the vacuum created by Wolsey's demise and helps Henry achieve what he desires while at the same time advancing his own position and power-base.
This book pictures Cromwell as a diplomat in the truest sense of the word. A keen observer of people and hoarder of secrets, he shapes events to his own advantage.
Yet, he's not painted as a cruel man. He is very good and loyal to those he is close to. The impression given is one of a man doing what needed to be done, while not always liking it.
The book only takes us to the execution of Thomas Moore, with Anne still queen and Cromwell still in favour and planning a trip to Wolf Hall, the seat of the Seymours. Apparently a sequel is in the making, and I'm looking forward to reading it.
This was not an easy book to read and took a long time to get through. Yet the picture it paints of England at the time, the international politics and the intrigue at Henry's court made for captivating reading.