From the book jacket: A swashbuckling
adventure story that reveals for the first time how Diego de la
Vega became the masked man we all know so well. Between
California and Barcelona, the New World and the Old, the persona
of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins.
After many adventures -- duels at dawn, fierce battles with
pirates at sea, and impossible rescues -- Diego de la Vega, a.k.a.
Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was
raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it
Comment: Once they got over the shock of Allende writing about a fictional cartoon character in the first place, most critics came out in favor of Allende's version of the Zorro story, but a few found the character a little one-dimensional. However, overall, most agreed that if one is in the market for swashbuckling entertainment, then you can't go too far wrong with Zorro!
Publishers Weekly and Booklist both give it their highest rating - a starred review; while the Houston Chronicle sums things up nicely describing it as, 'One of those rare and perfect matches of subject and author... Sinfully entertaining ... Serious fiction."
If you enjoy Zorro, you might also want to check out Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte.
About the character of Zorro
The first Zorro story, The Curse of Capistrano, appeared as a 5-part serial in All-Story Weekly (an American pulp fiction magazine) starting in the August 9, 1919 issue. It was written by Johnston McCulley (a 36-year-old former police reporter) who set his story in early 19th century California. Don Diego de la Vega is the son of a rich land owning family and would rather read poetry than participate in anything violent. However, just like all the other masked heroes we love so much, this is all a ruse - when night falls he becomes Zorro (zorro is Spanish for fox) - defender of the weak and oppressed! Douglas Fairbanks took on the lead role in The Mark of Zorro (1920) which broke box office records.
This review was originally published in June 2005, and has been updated for the May 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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