The protagonist of the novel. He is the son of the noble Generalessa and Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò and lives in the fictional Italian village of Ombrosa. When the reader meets Cosimo, he’s a… (read full character analysis)
Cosimo’s love interest. Cosimo first meets Viola when Viola is 10 years old. At this point, Viola already looks mature beyond her years—her hair and clothing are styled maturely for a girl of her… (read full character analysis)
The narrator of the novel; Cosimo’s younger brother. Despite being very different from Cosimo in many ways—where Cosimo is stubborn and individualistic, Biagio wants to please, is compliant, and cares what others think—the two… (read full character analysis)
Cosimo, Biagio, and Battista’s uncle; he’s Baron Arminio’s illegitimate brother. The cavalier avvocato spent much of his youth in a Muslim country (Biagio suspects Turkey) and was extremely happy there. There… (read full character analysis)
A fearsome thief who terrorizes everyone in Ombrosa. He has a reputation for being ruthless and uncompromising. In the weeks before Cosimo meets him, he discovers that all the robberies attributed to Gian dei Brughi… (read full character analysis)
Cosimo and Biagio’s older sister. At the beginning of the novel, she’s the house nun and takes on much of the cooking. She became a nun after an incident with the Marquis della Mela… (read full character analysis)
Biagio, Cosimo, and Battista’s mother, and Baron Arminio’s wife. As a girl, the Generalessa accompanied her father, a general, on his campaigns in the War of Austrian Succession, which earned her… (read full character analysis)
The religious leader for the group of Spanish nobles that lives in the trees. He’s a Jesuit, which makes Cosimo suspicious of him to begin with. This suspicion quickly proves to be correct and… (read full character analysis)
The di Rondòs’ spiritual leader and Biagio and Cosimo’s tutor. He’s an old, sleepy, and vacant man; Baron Arminio chose him mostly because the Abbé is a Jansenist and not a Jesuit. The Abbé… (read full character analysis)
A dachshund whom Cosimo adopts as a hunting dog soon after taking to the trees. He discovers that Ottimo Massimo used to belong to Viola, which makes Cosimo even more interested in having… (read full character analysis)
The leader of the Spanish nobles who live in the trees in Olivabassa, a city near Ombrosa. A large man with liver spots, Don Frederico is melancholy and somewhat hopeless about his situation. He has… (read full character analysis)
One of the Spanish nobles whom Cosimo meets in the trees of Olivabassa. When Cosimo learns that King Carlos III tortured El Conde’s son, Cosimo realizes that El Conde is the only Spanish noble who… (read full character analysis)
A young Spanish woman who becomes Cosimo’s first love. Their love is fun and passionate, and Ursula is thrilled when her father, Don Frederico, invites Cosimo to marry Ursula and return to Granada… (read full character analysis)
An officer who, along with Sir Osbert and Cosimo, vies for Viola’s affections. He and Sir Osbert agree to not share Viola, but they continue to see her together and make a number… (read full character analysis)
Marquis della Mela
A young man who, sometime before the novel begins, possibly raped Battista. Biagio, however, implies that Battista was actually the aggressor, as servants found the Marquis della Mela screaming, with his pants in shreds. He refused to marry Battista after this incident.
Lieutenant Agrippa Papillon
A lieutenant in the French Army. Lieutenant Papillon loves nature and is a natural poet; he’s a poor leader and disinterested in making war. Cosimo discovers Papillon’s unit in the woods around Ombrosa, and sees that all the soldiers are growing moss and ferns out of their uniforms.
The Fruit Thieves
A band of impoverished boys, including Ugasso and Bel-Loré, who steal fruit from Ombrosa’s farmers. They’re considered a nuisance, and before taking to the trees, Cosimo never thought them worthy friends. He begins to run with them when he learns that they’re friends of Viola’s.
The Young Count d’Estomac
Count d’Estomac’s son, and eventually, Battista’s husband. As an adult, young Count d’Estomac leads a regiment of Austro-Sardinian soldiers and briefly lives with Biagio. But when the French conquer more land in Europe, young Count d’Estomac and Battista have to flee.
As a child, Ugasso is one of the fruit thieves in love with Viola. Along with Bel-Loré, he engages in banditry with Gian dei Brughi as an adult. In the months after Gian dei Brughi’s capture, he and Bel Loré light fires in the woods surrounding Ombrosa.
One of the fruit thieves who’s in love with Viola in his childhood. In adulthood, he becomes one of Gian dei Brughi’s bandits. Later, angry at Cosimo, he sets fires in the woods surrounding Ombrosa.
A count who visits the di Rondò family not long after Cosimo climbs into the trees. Cosimo delights him, much to Baron Arminio’s chagrin, and he spreads news of Cosimo throughout the courts of Europe.
A general early in the French Revolution, and later the Emperor of France. He meets Cosimo in Ombrosa after being crowned Emperor in Milan, Italy.
General Konrad Von Kurtewitz
The Generalessa’s father. He was a general in the War of Austrian Succession, and he took his daughter with him on his campaigns.
It’s unclear if Zaira is real or a figment of Cosimo’s imagination, but she appears in Cosimo’s story of the cavalier avvocato’s death. If real, she’s possibly a former lover or a daughter of the cavalier avvocato.
King Carlos III
The king of Spain. He banishes the Spanish nobles whom Cosimo meets in the trees.
An Enlightenment philosopher whom Biagio meets in Paris. Voltaire has heard of Cosimo, and Cosimo reads Voltaire’s work.
An elderly duke in Ombrosa who owns a vast hunting ground. He marries 21-year-old Viola, but dies after a year of marriage in his early 80s.
A Jesuit who masquerades as a Freemason. He conspires with Don Fulgencio and Father Sulpicio.
A Jesuit who masquerades as a Freemason. He’s in cahoots with Don Calisto and Father Sulpicio.
One of Viola’s caregivers.
The Marquis d’Ondariva