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They called him many names: outcast, rebel, thief, murderer, but François Villon was mainly a genius of medieval poetry. He was a modern man born in the wrong time and his unique wit keeps on charming people to this day.

Set in fifteenth century Paris, this novel centres around Villon’s life from his wild student years until his mysterious disappearance at the age of thirty-two.

Part One is told by Villon’s best friend, Regnier de Montigny, and describes their last year at the Sorbonne and their first brush with crime. We are introduced to Villon’s rebellious side, which initiates his many famous student pranks that border on crime. The tragedies that unfold establish his life-long bitterness with the conflicting authorities of the Church and the law.

Part Two focuses on Katherine de Vaucelles and her love for the young poet despite his accidental murder of a priest, which was committed in self-defence. Villon becomes a criminal on the run and experiences a different kind of love than the one he has been used to at the brothels.

Part Three follows Villon’s life after a fatal misunderstanding parts him from Katherine. It’s told from the point of view of his friend, brothel madam Margot. Villon is at a crossroads to either becoming an outlaw or mending his ways. He struggles with his love for Katherine and the city of Paris but feels that the only way to survive is to leave them both behind.

In Part Four, Villon returns home after many years trying to escape the law but mainly himself. He’s in a weak physical condition and with incurable wounds on his soul. This part is told by his adoptive father, the priest Guillaume Villon, who has always stood by his side. He tells the story of how Villon first became an acclaimed court poet, but ultimately a prisoner, escaping death by a hair’s breadth. However, despite Villon’s ability to self-reflect and make amends, nothing changes the fact that he is still a wanted criminal.

Part Five is written from the perspective of François Villon himself. Here, a new Villon is born, a Villon that perhaps already transcends his time. He feels like an old man at the age of thirty-two and is confronted with the repercussions of his reckless youth. Some things are long gone while others remain the same, especially his affection for Katherine, who is now married to his rival. He wants to start anew, but it wouldn’t be him if he didn’t attract some trouble again. No matter how much he wants to live a better life, he finds himself in the wrong company and in the wrong place and is confronted with death yet again.