"Silken" Thomas- Henry VIII 's Irish Thorn is in the tradition of the epic novel. The period is the 1530's. The young Irish lord "Silken" Thomas Fitzgerald has challenged the cruel religious policies of Henry VIII by renouncing his sword of state. Henry counters by sending an army to Ireland.
The novel begins with Thomas' trek, precipitated by the fall of his family's castle, to an allay's sronghold in the west of Ireland. Once there he and his wife, Frances, struggle to rekindle the revolt's waning popularity. Their efforts fail and Frances goes to England where she appeals to her cousin Ann Boleyn to intercede on Thomas' behalf with her husband Henry VIII.
Thomas, after surrendering-on-terms, later treacherously rescended by Henry, returns to England where he is imprisoned in the Tower. The novel concludes by describing the events that occur when the desperate efforts of Frances, and a priest friend, fail to obtain amnesty for Thomas.