I read this book when it first came out. I read everything I can find by Isabel Allende, she is a master story teller, she is not afraid to throw in a little mystique, and is a great character developer. Her stories are historical and imaginative. I get totally involved in them when reading them...my idea of a really good book. Read it, you'll be glad you did!
Leave it to Allende to take a well-known story like Zorro and make it into a fresh, compelling read. I read this too fast, I was so taken into the story and its details! Hope you enjoy her version of Zorro, extremely well done!
Alende is a fantastic author, always entertaining as well as educating. This is her created legend of the early years and backgrouond of ZORRO. Fascinating to read the days of Early California and of Spain during it's short period under the French.
A great and fun novel.
I loved Allende's version of this well known character. She always makes her stories so rich and full of detail. I had never read the original story of Zorro by Johnston McCulley, but Allende has given me a reason to check it out.
I had a hard time getting into this one. The first section dragged along, seeming to go no where and without emotion or clear direction. This wasn't an easy read or a comfortable one either. I never felt captivated by the story or even caring what happened to the characters in it. I think whoever transltated this novel fron its original language did not do it justice as Allende's books are usually quite moving, captivating and emotionally charged.
In this novel, Allende does a pretty good job of achieving the balance between making the mythical Mexican hero Zorro a plausible historical character, and portraying the romance and swashbuckling flair of the legends.
Although there are frequent educational (and 'op-ed') paragraphs where the reader learns about the history and culture of the time (19th century Spain and Mexico), there are also plenty of romantic and dramatic episodes involving Gypsies, pirates, dueling, and more.
I had a bit of trouble with the implication that Native Americans are all innately telepathic and some readers may be disappointed that this novel is basically an origins story it tells the tale of how a boy grew up to become Zorro, and focuses heavily on the trials of his love life. So it doesnt have too many of the episodes of fighting injustice that he, we are told by the narrator, later became famous for.
Still, overall, a very enjoyable book.
How Don Diego de la Vega became "El Zorro", the Fox...begins with his father and mother meeting and ends back in Alta California (where the tale began) after adventures in Panama, Cuba, Barcelona, and Grand Island with the "privateer" Jean LaFitte. The narrative is 1st person though the chronicler isn't revealed until the epilogue. This is Zorro's back story, ending where the movies and Disney adventures begin.
Allende's lively retelling of the Zorro legend reads as effortlessly as the hero himself might slice his trademark "Z" on the wall with a flash of his sword. Born Diego de la Vega in 1795 to the valiant hidalgo, Alejandro, and the beautiful Regina, the daughter of a Spanish deserter and an Indian shaman, our hero grows up in California before traveling to Spain. Raised alongside his wet nurse's son, Bernardo, Diego becomes friends for life with his "milk brother," despite the boys' class differences. Though born into privilege, Diego has deep ties to California's exploited nativesboth through blood and friendshipthat account for his abiding sense of justice and identification with the underdog. In Catalonia, these instincts as well as Diego's swordsmanship intrigue Manuel Escalante, a member of the secret society La Justicia. Escalante recruits Diego into the society, which is dedicated to fighting all forms of oppression, and thus begins Diego's construction of his dashing, secret alter ego, Zorro. With loyal Bernardo at his side, Zorro hones his fantastic skills, evolves into a noble hero and returns to California to reclaim his family's estate in a breathtaking duel. All the while, he encounters numerous historical figures, who anchor this incredible tale in a reality that enriches and contextualizes the Zorro myth. Allende's latest page-turner explodes with vivid characterization and high-speed storytelling. (Amazon review)
Isabel Allende gave the world a wonderful origin story for the legend of Zorro. Yes, I grew up with the black and white TV show and have enjoyed the various movies. But this story was the first tale that gave Zorro true seriousness.
This riveting tale starts with Zorro's parents and continues on from there with the birth of Diego and his antics as a boy. His milk brother (so called because they were both breast fed by the same woman) Bernado, a full blooded Native American, was born in the same week. An antic with a bear particularly stood out for me. The book then takes a more serious turn when pirates attack this California coastal village, leaving a few dead and many scarred for life. As Diego and Bernado become young men, they have an opportunity to go off to Catalan-speaking Spain to allow Diego to polish off his schooling. The antics continue, including performance in a gypsy circus, sword-training by a master of a secret society, and young love.
I was looking for a clever retelling of this fictional American homegrown hero, something with an interesting feminine twist. What I got was indeed a retelling, but not as clever or interesting as I had hoped.
This is a "tale of origin" explaining how Zorro became the masked avenger. He is born Diego de la Vega, son of a Spanish hidalgo and a fierce Shoshone she-warrior. Apparently, the author took great pains to research this book. Kudos. Despite all the research, there seemed to be something a little off. It wasn't so much the facts that were suspect (although I'd like to check if the Shoshone values of "Okahue" were created to serve the plot), but the way the facts integrated--or failed to integrate--with the story. At one point Diego is bitten by a rattlesnake. "Diego remembered some of the facts he had learned about rattlesnakes..." The facts that follow may as well be numbered, taken from some text or scientific article. The fencing scenes are even worse. You might as well read from a manual. I listened to the audio-book, so here is my best paraphrase: "He held his arm 180 degrees in front, foil pointed forward, left arm raised 90 degrees over his head for balance." Yes, that makes for quite the thrilling fight scene. The gripes go on. Every other word is a cliche (the translator's fault?), there is hardly any dialogue, the prose is bland, the characters flat and impossible to sympathize with, as they have as much pep as are papier mache.
This is my first Allende book, and I hear she is renowned for her well-drawn female characters and ability to write emotional drama. I can't speak for her other books, but here I found Julianna a distressed damsel, and Isabelle just annoying. Nuria, the girls' chaperon, is religious, superstitious and narrow-minded, which makes her the most interesting of all. As for the men...Bernardo the mute Shoshone is sympathetic, mainly because of some emotional manipulation on the writer's part by making him an orphan who refuses to talk due to his suffering. She tries to make Zorro a sort of "scarlet pimpernel" type who behaves flamboyantly while defending the downtrodden from behind his mask. As with all her descriptions, she never gets more specific than saying he "dressed well" and "behaved flamboyantly". No "show", all "tell". She also tends to spell things out in case the reader wasn't observant enough to figure out something themselves.
I'd like to end on a positive note. Scientific discussion of rattlesnake bites aside, I did enjoy Diego's and Bernardo's Spirit Quests with the Shoshone tribe. I thought the two boys' respective experiences finding their totem animals did more to establish character than any other anecdote in this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this epic tale of the early life of Zorro. It was an adventurous, yet believable tale about how he acquired all his skills and then naturally evolved into the Zorro legend. I am picky about narrators, and found Blair Brown's voice to be enjoyable to listen to; a VERY entertaining book.
A different kind of book for Allende. I have read most of her books. This is a fun and interesting story with a lot of fascinating background from the Napoleonic era in Spain and the American continent. It is NOT as serious as many of her others. Read it for a relaxing and iconoclastic look at a wild west legend and you will be well rewarded.
This is a very good read and reveals how Don Diego de la Vega came to become El Zorro. It ends just as all of the other versions of Zorro's story begins. I recommend it to anyone who has ever been interested in the Legend of El Zorro, and/or early California history.
I'm not sure what I expected. The beginning and ending was too fast. Especially the ending which seemed to be an afterthought. I did like the middle of the book. It is written well, and if you like the Zorro legend, you may like this book. Otherwise, stick to the movies and Disney series.
A child of two worlds -- the son of an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner and a Shoshone warrior woman -- young Diego de la Vega cannot silently bear the brutal injustices visited upon the helpless in late-eighteenth-century California. And so a great hero is born -- skilled in athleticism and dazzling swordplay, his persona formed between the Old World and the New -- the legend known as Zorro.
I really enjoyed this one! Allende tells the story of Diego de la Vega who becomes Zorro from his childhood growing up in a hacienda in Southern California, to his 5 years in Spain where he learned his skills and first took on the role of Zorro, to his return to California where he is able to usurp his rival from Spain and free his father from prison. This Zorro is in many ways very familiar but in others different. He is very similar to the Zorro of the Disney program from the 50s which included some of the same characters such as Sergeant Garcia, the mute Bernardo, his horse Tornado, and even the secret passageway that connects the hacienda to a secret cave. But this novel is mainly about how Zorro came to be with a half-native-American mother, and growing up with Bernardo who is also native American and considered to be Zorro's milk-brother (they were both born at the same time and nursed by the same mother). On the way back from Spain, he also encounters the pirate, Jean Lafitte who ends up marrying the girl he is in love with. Overall, a very engaging novel by Allende. I have read a couple of her other novels and enjoyed them as well. I also have a copy of the original Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley that I plan on reading soon to compare with this novel.