"If you intend to kill me in public, and mount a show, be quick. Or I may die of grief alone in this room."
He shakes his head. "You'll live." He once thought it himself, that he might die of grief. For his wife, his daughters, his sisters, his father and master the cardinal. But the pulse, obdurate, keeps its rhythm. You think you cannot keep breathing, but your ribcage has other ideas, rising and falling, emitting sighs. You must thrive in spite of yourself. And so that you may do it, God takes out your heart of flesh and gives you a heart of stone.
This sums up the change in Thomas Cromwell from [b:Wolf Hall|6101138|Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)|Hilary Mantel|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1336576165s/6101138.jpg|6278354] into this novel. He is a colder, more calculating man, tasting vengeance against those who had humiliated and caused the death of his mentor Cardinal Wolsey. He also doesn't have the same opportunities to exercise his gentler side. His family is essentially gone: wife and daughters dead, son, nephew, and ward all grown and living outside his house. His life is really all business now. There are other changes too. He is rethinking the nature of his relationship with his late father, which is fascinating to watch. And we begin to see the politics of the court shift, and while on the surface, his career is still on the rise, we begin to see cracks through which he will eventually fall.
Mantel is tremendously talented. I finished this book and yearned to be able to start the next one right away. Unfortunately, it is not due out for 2 more years. I will try to be patient, and I will have to explore some other novels by [a:Hilary Mantel|58851|Hilary Mantel|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1334862633p2/58851.jpg] in the meantime.