Too many of my friends here on GR and elsewhere have not yet read this, but are planning to, so I won't do much of a review - at least not yet.
But I have to say, the writing in this is even better than in Wolf Hall. Mantel's metaphors and similes are beyond apt, cutting and character-revealing and entirely original; when she is lyrical, her prose positively takes flight although she has a steady, controlled hand on it; her dialogue is electric. Her plotting, her pace, her tone -- every single aspect of this is impeccable.
I won't quote anything, because you have to read it and have the thing unfurl before you page by page.
So dark - so dark, and cynical, and sad. Here is Cromwell, whom we all admired in Wolf Hall,
carrying out his duty to King Henry, and working his own agenda. In Wolf Hall,
Mantel shows us a man with a vision, admirable audacity, and an even-tempered fairness whose opportunism was used in the service of higher goals. Here, she strips off our rose-coloured glasses and shows Cromwell as the amoral, vengeful and cruel politician he is. Also, as he is painfully self-aware, a doomed one.
And here is King Henry, as capriciously murderous as it's possible to be. And here is the enigmatic cipher Anne Boleyn -- I don't think it's too far a stretch to infer that Mantel means to set her up as a feminist icon.
Well, that's enough - too much. Just read it and find out.