The author explains the book is founded on a word he once found engraved by hand on a wall of Notre Dame: ἈΝÁΓΚΗ. The inscription has since disappeared, in the same way, he believes, as the medieval churches do: first whitewashed and then scraped down by religious people, and finally demolished by the populace.

Book 1: Chapters I–VI

On January 6, 1482, during the wedding of the French prince to a Flemish princess and the Festival of Fools, a crowd of locals and Flemish dignitaries watch a play by Pierre Gringoire in the Palace of Justice in Paris. Then they elect Quasimodo, the bell-ringer of Notre Dame, to be the Pope of Fools and parade him in the streets. Later, they rush to watch La Esmeralda dance outside the palace.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 1: Chapters I–VI.

Book 2: Chapters I–VII

Gringoire sees La Esmeralda performing on a square and follows her. On the way, Quasimodo (watched by the archdeacon of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo) attacks La Esmeralda and, as Gringoire tries to save her, knocks him unconscious. The king's archers rescue La Esmeralda, capture Quasimodo, and their captain, Phoebus de Chateaupers, introduces himself to her. Gringoire wanders into a den of criminals, is saved by La Esmeralda, and spends the night at her home.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 2: Chapters I–VII.

Book 3: Chapters I & II

The narrator tells the history of Notre Dame, lamenting that, over time, renovations disfigured and turned the cathedral into a transition building, amalgamating the style of all the churches in France. The narrator then describes Paris as having three areas – the Cité, the Ville, and the Université – and laments that its cyclical renewal has made it less beautiful and without a signature style.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 3: Chapters I & II,

Book 4: Chapters I–VI

When Quasimodo was abandoned as a child and rejected for his ugliness, Claude Frollo, then a young priest, adopted him, named him Quasimodo, and raised him with his own little brother, Jehan. Quasimodo became the bell-ringer at 14, a job he loves but makes him deaf, and respects Frollo as a father. Claude rose in the church but, frustrated by failing to raise Quasimodo and his brother to his standards, turns to alchemy.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 4: Chapters I–VI.

Book 5: Chapters I & II

Claude is visited by Doctor Jacques Coictier, the king's physician, and the king, in disguise, discusses medicine with them, reveals his interest in alchemy, and becomes closer to the king. After a comment by Claude, the author discusses how the invention of printing will change the role of architecture.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 5: Chapters I & II.

Book 6: Chapters I–V

Quasimodo is sentenced. We learn about Sister Gudule (Paquette la Chantefleurie), a recluse living near the place where Quasimodo will be tortured, who hates gypsies because they replaced her beautiful daughter with an ugly baby. After Quasimodo is tortured, attendants wash his back, but a crowd stones and abuses him. Claude approaches him but turns away. Quasimodo begs for water, La Esmeralda gives him some, and he cries. He is released and the mob dispersed.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 6: Chapters I–V.

Book 7: Chapters I–III

While Phoebus is visiting Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier, a rich woman who loves him, her friends invite La Esmeralda in. As the women discover she loves Phoebus and insult her, the gypsy leaves and Phoebus follows her. Claude, watching La Esmeralda from a tower, notices Quasimodo doing the same and rushes to the square to find her. Unsuccessful, he returns to the cathedral with Gringoire, who tells Claude everything he knows about La Esmeralda. 

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 7: Chapters I–III.

Book 7: Chapters IV–VIII

Claude is visited by his brother, Jehan, who asks for money, and by Jacques Charmolue, who discusses alchemy with him. Then Claude follows Jehan, who goes drinking with Phoebus, hears the captain's plans to meet La Esmeralda, follows him, pays to let him watch their meeting and, as the gypsy declares her undying love for Phoebus, stabs him, and flees. La Esmeralda faints and wakes up to officers saying that a sorceress had stabbed the captain.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 7: Chapters IV–VIII.

Book 8: Chapters I–IV

Gringoire discovers that La Esmeralda is on trial for stabbing Phoebus and for sorcery. A woman testifies she saw a priest jump into the Seine after the crime, but the court believes this is a demon conjured by the gypsy. Tortured, La Esmeralda confesses to everything the prosecutor asks her and is sentenced to be hanged. Claude visits her in prison, confesses his love, and when rejected, tells her Phoebus is dead.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 8: Chapters I–IV.

Book 8: Chapters V & VI

Sister Gudule rejoices with the news that La Esmeralda will be hanged. Phoebus recovers, leaves Paris for a while, returns, and proposes to Fleur-de-Lys. They hear about a witch being executed and go to the square. La Esmeralda cries out to Phoebus, but he ignores her and goes back to Fleur-de-Lys's house. Quasimodo rescues the gypsy, takes her to the cathedral, and keeps the executioners out by claiming the church a sanctuary.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 8: Chapters V & VI.

Book 9: Chapters I–VI

After going to the hills to avoid seeing La Esmeralda die, Claude returns to the cathedral, sees her, and thinks she's a ghost. Quasimodo takes care of La Esmeralda and they become friends. He offers to bring Phoebus to her, but Phoebus, thinking her dead, refuses to go with Quasimodo. Claude spies on La Esmeralda and Quasimodo, grows jealous, and attacks her one night. Quasimodo attacks Claude but lets him go after recognizing him.

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Book 10: Chapters I–VII

Frollo convinces Gringoire to save La Esmeralda before she is removed from the cathedral by the law. At midnight, when Gringoire, Jehan, and some vagabonds approach the cathedral, Quasimodo sees them, thinks they intend to kill her, and attacks and kills most of them. Phoebus and the archers come to arrest La Esmeralda, but Quasimodo thinks they came to save her and is horrified when he can't find her anywhere.

Book 11: Chapters I–IV

Claude rescues La Esmeralda with Gringoire, but rejected again, leaves her with Sister Gudule to be turned to the authorities. The two women discover they are mother and daughter, Gudule tries to hide her, but she is arrested. Looking for her from the top of the cathedral, Quasimodo notices Claude looking toward the city, sees her body hanged, kills Claude, and disappears. Years later, his skeleton was found curled around La Esmeralda's in her grave.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Book 10.

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