The bulk of the novel focuses on the life of Salvatore Guiliano and how he rose to his legendary status as a bandit and hero to the Sicilian people. He was born in the village of Montelepre, west of Palermo. His godfather, Hector Adonis, a small man tormented his entire life for his small stature, was a professor of history and literature at the University of Palermo. He is a very close personal friend of the Guiliano family, a mentor for Turi, and a man who caters to the Friends of the Friends (the word Mafia is rarely spoken in Sicily).

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