Summary and book reviews of Zorro by Isabel Allende

Zorro

A Novel

by Isabel Allende

Zorro
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 390 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 416 pages

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Book Summary

A swashbuckling adventure story that reveals for the first time how Diego de la Vega became Zorro, the masked man we all know so well.

A swashbuckling adventure story that reveals for the first time how Diego de la Vega became the masked man we all know so well.

Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, he is a child of two worlds. Diego de la Vega's father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. Diego learns from his maternal grandmother, White Owl, the ways of her tribe while receiving from his father lessons in the art of fencing and in cattle branding. It is here, during Diego's childhood, filled with mischief and adventure, that he witnesses the brutal injustices dealt Native Americans by European settlers and first feels the inner conflict of his heritage.

At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Barcelona for a European education. In a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule, Diego follows the example of his celebrated fencing master and joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor. With this tumultuous period as a backdrop, Diego falls in love, saves the persecuted, and confronts for the first time a great rival who emerges from the world of privilege.

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 themselves.

Let us begin at the beginning, at an event without which Diego de la Vega would not have been born. It happened in Alta California, in the San Gabriel mission in the year 1790 of Our Lord. At that time the mission was under the charge of Padre Mendoza, a Franciscan who had the shoulders of a woodcutter and a much younger appearance than his forty well-lived years warranted. He was energetic and commanding, and the most difficult part of his ministry was to emulate the humility and sweet nature of Saint Francis of Assisi. There were other Franciscan friars in the region supervising the twenty-three missions and preaching the word of Christ among a multitude of Indians from the Chumash, Shoshone, and other tribes who were not always overly cordial in welcoming them. The natives of the coast of California had a network of trade and commerce that had functioned for thousands of years. Their surroundings were very rich in natural resources, and the tribes developed...

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Introduction
Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, Diego de la Vega is a child of two worlds: his father is an aristocratic Spanish landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. From this diverse ancestry, Diego learns the ways of the tribe along with fencing and cattle branding. Over the course of Diego's childhood, he witnesses the brutal injustices dealt Native Americans by European settlers and first feels the inner conflict of his heritage.

At the age of sixteen, Diego travels to Barcelona for a European education. In a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule, Diego follows the example of his fencing master and joins La Justicia, an underground resistance movement devoted to helping the ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

San Antonio Express-News

Zorro reads like classic 19th-century literature . . . Remarkably, Diego is no cardboard hero checked out from central casting; Allende has skillfully rounded his corners, nuanced him and breathed life into him . . . Allende's vivid reimagining of the Zorro legend will make you want to pick up a sword and start slashing your initials into the nearest available bad guy. This rollicking adventure yarn is that much fun, chock-full of romance and heroism, a swashbuckling read . . . More old-fashioned, rip-roaring storytelling than you can shake a sword at.

Houston Chronicle

One of those rare and perfect matches of subject and author... Sinfully entertaining ... Serious fiction.

The Washington Post - Craig Nova

It is not possible to sum up the surprises, rescues from prisons, flirtations (between Zorro's true love and, for example, a pirate), but the book has plenty of what Hollywood would call non-stop action, and this is told with a pleasure so keen on the author's part that it's difficult not to be swept up in it.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Allende's latest page-turner explodes with vivid characterization and high-speed storytelling.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

Starred Review. Allende's mesmerizing narrative voice never loses timbre or flags in either tension or entertainment value. To describe her as a clever novelist is to signify that she is both inventive and intelligent.

Library Journal - Misha Stone

Allende is a beguiling storyteller, and Zorro provides a rich palate for her customary embellishments. Recommended for all public libraries.

Kirkus Reviews

The up-to-date, even postmodern ending makes for a nice touch, too, and will gladden the heart of anyone ready in his or her heart to carve a few Zs into the bad guys.

Reader Reviews

Brielle

Exciting!!!!
I really loved this book!! It was a really good mix of adventure, romance, and humor, with enough history for it to qualify as historical fiction (so it works for school). I loved it!!! I definitely recommend it!!!

Faith

The best story
Zorro is an awesome book/movie. I had a book charter day and I dressed up as him. This book is just like movie but better. Eveyone should read this you can't stop its just sooooooo good! READ IT! IT'S AWSOME!

David

Brings together most Zorro ideas
Like Robin Hood, Zorro is a story that almost everyone knows, but few have read. The original book by Johnston McCulley is out of print and available in very few libraries. The Mark of Zorro 1920 with Douglas Fairbanks is very true to the book. ...   Read More

Candice

Excellent, but I wanted more
I love Zorro and the stories surrounding Zorro. When I started this book I was very excited and I loved the way the author handled the beginnings of Zorro. However, being a diehard Zorro fan I wanted to know more of the story involving Esparanza. ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Allende was approached by John Gertz, who owns the rights to Zorro, to write a literary book about the famous character.  Gertz's father had bought the rights to Zorro from McCulley in 1920 and, in conjunction with Disney, had developed Zorro into a TV series, comic book and feature film.  When Gertz Jr bought the rights back it occurred to him that Zorro had never been portrayed in a 'serious' work of literature, so he started searching for a writer to hire - someone who knew California well, could think in Spanish and had a track record in historical research. 

Initially Allende brushed him off but rather than take no for an answer Gertz left her with a boxful of artefacts - tapes of old ...

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