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Zorro (2005)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0301123,226 (3.62)145
Diego de la Vega, the son of an aristocratic Spanish landowner and a Shoshone mother, returns to California from school in Spain to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for the weak and helpless.
  1. 30
    The Princess Bride by William Goldman (Alliebadger)
    Alliebadger: Both full of romance and adventure, and both fantastically written. Who doesn't love a daring swashbuckler?
  2. 30
    The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: McCulley created Zorro
  3. 10
    Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (Alliebadger)
    Alliebadger: Both beautifully written, and Daughter of Fortune's Zorro references are hard to miss. :^)

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» See also 145 mentions

English (93)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
Although it took me some time to really fall into and engage with this book, I'm glad I stayed with it. There's a sort of timelessness to Allende's prose here, and the way it brings Zorro to life offers a particular power to the story that befits the legendary quality. Reading the book took me back to watching the black-and-white television series I enjoyed as a child, but with a depth that made this book feel more like a journey than a novel in many ways. I'm glad to have read it. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Dec 14, 2020 |
Isabel Allende is a mastermind. She takes a popular legend and breathes new and refreshing life into him and his family. This is a rich novel with commentary on race, class, and gender, and it is also a lot of fun in the bargain. Isabel is a delicious supporting character to Diego's predictably buccaneer heroic antics. While I would not quite give this a five-star review (perhaps because I'm still dazed from The House of the Spirits), this is a solid 4.5 book that is worth the time it takes to read
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Where to begin?

Yes, we know that Allende was asked to write this book. I don't think we should castigate her for that. There is plenty else to consider. The primary problem I see with this book is the lack of real character development. Allende was so involved in placing the character inside a historical era that she didn't do enough to flesh him out. Throughout the book we are told that this happened, and then this happened, but with very little dialog or interaction spelled out among characters. It's the old "show, don't tell" that she violates.

Thus I never gained any real attachment to any of the characters. Allende is also determined to explain everything about Zorro, from his costume to his mask to his skill at fencing and acrobatics. It's too much. Why do we need that silliness about his ears to explain that the mask is tied behind his head, covering his ears? And his jumping around the ship, sailing through the air, thereby developing his gymnastic ability...bleh. I simply wasn't sold on any of it and found it too pat and predictable. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
I should have enjoyed this book far more than I did. One of my favourite novels/series is The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, which actually predates Zorro as the 'father of all the action heroes with the double personality', and so I thought I should read about Sir Percy's nearest chronological successor, Diego de la Vega AKA Zorro. But I just couldn't get into the character, as retold by Chilean writer Isabel Allende, or his picaresque adventures. In fact, this damn novel sent me into a reading slump - two weeks to read nearly 400 pages!

Anyway, I did enjoy learning about the early history of California, where Diego's story starts with a Spanish father and an Indian (native American) mother, and can't praise the author enough for her research - the mark (pardon the pun) of a good historical novel for me is bringing the dry facts of the past to life. Orczy did the same for the French Revolution, baring the odd instance of melodrama: 'This is called literary licence,' the narrator of Zorro's life explains, 'and as I understand it, it is more legitimate than all-out lies.'

I also loved the narrative voice of the story, which sounds very authentic, if not to the era of the story than of classic adventure stories from the early twentieth century. The dialogue was slightly ridiculous, however, and Diego reminded me of Antonio Banderas as Puss ... In Boots every time he challenged someone to a duel, or whatever.

I think the charm of Sir Percy Blakeney/the Scarlet Pimpernel that Zorro is missing - at least in this modern revision - is mystery. Sir Percy is equally talented at all of the 'gentlemanly arts' and uses ingenuity and bare-faced impudence to achieve his rescues as the Pimpernel, but the reader never really gets inside his head. Here, Diego/Zorro is laid wide-open and comes across as arrogant and cartoonish as a result (especially with the mask and cape). And the passionate romance between Sir Percy and his wife Marguerite is diluted into Diego mooning after the virginal daughter of his Spanish sponsor, Juliana, who eventually falls in love with a pirate. Isabel, her sister, is a far better character, but she is described as a cross-eyed tomboy and written off the page (despite being the narrator).

I was expecting Allende to raise Zorro above his dime store origins, but she maintained the tone (and testosterone) far too closely for me. Back to the Scarlet Pimpernel! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Aug 28, 2020 |
Read 2015, favourite. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
This hard-charging style, nicely captured by Margaret Sayers Peden's translation, is one of Allende's strengths: she dashes off long, sweeping paragraphs that dance with energy. Her prose is casually sensuous (''power was passed from hand to hand like a coin''), and her characters are large and archetypal, cut from mythic patterns. Mischievous Don Diego, the future Zorro, and his ''milk brother,'' Bernardo, move through the California landscape like Western versions of Tom and Huck.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Max Byrd (May 15, 2005)
…Allende wants to have some fun, and in this she succeeds with a variety of spunk and good cheer.

…I am amazed at how enjoyable a picaresque novel can be, particularly one imbued with swashbuckling, swordplay, honor, hidden desire, unlikely coincidence and a good old-fashioned villain. Such elements are a reminder of the attractions of one of the main strains of world literature that starts with Don Quixote.

…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.

Reckless, unstable, attention-seeking, hysterical, sexually provocative, given to histrionic gestures, and with at least a split, dual or possibly even a multiple personality, Zorro is the archetypal neurotic-as-hero. He also wears a mask. Obviously, out in the real world, you'd lock him up and throw away the key. On the page, though, he's absolutely irresistible.

The story of Diego de la Vega, the son of an aristocratic Spanish landowner and a Native American Shoshone warrior, who becomes Zorro while traveling the world with his dependable sidekick Bernardo, is clearly a perfect fit for the author of The House of the Spirits and The Stories of Eva Luna.


» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, BlairNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peden, Margaret SayersTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This is the story of Diego de la Vega and of how he became the legendary Zorro.
Let us begin at the beginning, at an event without which Diego de la Vega would not have been born.
„Didvyriškumas – nedėkingas amatas, dažniausiai lemiantis ankstyvą žūtį, todėl vilioja fanatikus arba, liguistai besižavinčius mirtimi.“; „Indėnai negalėjo suvokti, kodėl baltieji garbina ant kryžiaus nukankintą žmogų ir kodėl reikia atsižadėti malonumų šiame pasaulyje dėl tariamo gėrio kitame.“;
„ kaip tai gali atsitikti, kad jį, tokį menkystą, mylinti pati gražiausia pasaulio mergina, ir ji atsakė nežinanti, jog moteris sunku suprasti. Paskiau, šelmiškai mirktelėjusi, pridūrė, kad bet kuri moteris įsimylėtų vien tik su ją kalbantį vyrą.“; „Vaikystė – nelaimingas laikotarpis, pilnas nepagrįstų baimių, tokių kaip įsivaizduojamų pabaisų ir pajuokos baimės.“;
„Širdis – užgaidi, kartais staigiai persimaino, tačiau švelni seseriška meilė visada pastovi.“;

„Esu girdėjusi, kad kai kurie išradėjai svajoja sukurti rašymo aparatą, tačiau, mano įsitikinimu, toks keistas išradimas niekada nesulauks pasisekimo. Kai kurių rūšių neįmanoma mechanizuoti, nes joms reikia meilės, o rašymas yra viena jų.“;
„Meilė - tai tokia būklė, kurioje paprastai vyrams aptemsta protas, bet tai nepavojinga, apskritai pakanka to, kad ligoniui būtų atliepta, tuomet jis atsipeikėja ir ima žvalgytis kitos aukos.“; „Atmintis silpna ir aikštinga, kiekvienas žmogus prisimena ir pamišta tai, ką nori. Praeitis – tai storas sąsiuvinis, kuriame užsirašome gyvenimo įvykius rašalu, atitinkančiu dvasios būseną.“
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Diego de la Vega, the son of an aristocratic Spanish landowner and a Shoshone mother, returns to California from school in Spain to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for the weak and helpless.

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