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Zorro [Paperback]

Isabel Allende , Margaret Sayers Peden
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

2 May 2006

Bestselling author Isabel Allende’s first adult novel since ‘Portrait in Sepia’ – beautiful, disturbing and atmospheric.

Beneath the mask, there is a man. And in his heart burns the fire of injustice …

Duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates and impossible rescues – these are the deeds that forged the legend of Zorro. But where did the man begin?

Southern California, late 18th century: Diego de la Vega is a child of two worlds, his father an aristocratic Spaniard, his mother a Shoshone warrior. Growing up he witnesses the brutual injustices dealt to Native Americans. Later, following the example of his fencing master, the young Diego joins a secret movement devoted to helping the powerless. His first steps on the road to heroism have been taken.

But a great rival will emerge from the ranks of the cruel oppressors. How will Zorro defeat him? And will his childhood sweetheart Isabel claim the prize she so longs for – his true love?


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st Paperback Printing edition (2 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007201982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007201983
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of nine novels, including Inès of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and Portrait in Sepia. She has also written a collection of stories, four memoirs, and a trilogy of children's novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.

Product Description

Amazon Review

If admirers of the exquisitely talented novelist Isabel Allende had to pick the least likely subject for a novel by her, it would probably be the swashbuckling yarn Zorro. But that's exactly what Allende has tackled, and with her first adult novel since 2001’s Portrait in Sepia--and the result (against all the odds) is a conspicuous success.

It is, after all, something of a surprise that Allende proves herself so adept at a novel chronicling the adventures of this masked superhero figure of the old world. In such books as her signature novel The House of the Spirits, the author's territory has been the careful and insightful delineation of human character against richly atmospheric settings. Swashbuckling adventure has hardly been her metiér, but in some ways Zorro proves to be a more successful resurrection of the much-loved tale than the rather self-conscious Antonio Banderas movie incarnation.

Diego de la Vega is a man caught between two societies: he inherits his aristocratic background from his Spanish father, a high-ranking military officer who has become a landowner. His mother, however was a Shosone Indian, and it is from his Indian grandmother that he absorbs Indian ways, while achieving the unparalleled swordsmanship skills of his father. As his country suffers under the yoke of Napoleon's autocratic rule, Diego becomes a member of la Justicia, an underground movement dedicated to the overthrow of the tyrant. He then finds himself called upon to use his warrior skills to deliver those around him--and to confront a deadly rival.

Of necessity, the character drawing here has to be on a larger scale than we are used to from Allende, but she is still able to freight much of her subtle observation into the colourful canvas that is Zorro. Will her long-time admirers be able to accept such a radical change of pace from the author of The House of the Spirits? If they can't, they are doing themselves a disservice--and those addicted to novels of high adventure can add a new title to their lists.--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Beautiful and disturbing and profound…told in Allende's characteristically dizzying style' Guardian

'Heroism doesn't come more mysterious or more dashing … Pacey and atmospheric, this is a tale of love, rivalry and the pursuit of justice' Mail on Sunday

'The swashbuckling Zorro takes on new life in Allende's saga…never less than entertaining.' Sunday Times

'Isabel Allende leaves few swashes unbuckled as she gives Diego's saga a smooth, limpid flow. Highly entertaining' Independent


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging and interesting read 23 July 2006
Format:Paperback
I found the book to be full of wry humour and a very accomplished imagining of Zorro's past, particularly in the way in which the progress of Diego towards becoming a 'hero' reflected a building up, layer by layer, of characteristics and experiences.
In terms of absent characterisation, it is perhaps the case that Bernardo and his beloved are not layered with the same complexity as Diego and Isabel, but I saw this as reflecting their less tension-ridden characters.
My main criticism of the book would probably be that at times some of the layering of experiences to fit his later role in life seemed a little forced. However, this book has to be seen more as a narrative of his development into Zorro than as a 'fly-on-the-wall' style account of his life.
Ultimately, I found the novel to be engaging, touching and exciting.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Historically, whenever and wherever oppression exists, the people who are subject to it look for a heroic figure to defend them and to punish their persecutors. Such a paladin was Robin Hood, another is the legendary Zorro. One of my favorite authors, Isabel Allende, has reached deep into her ample well of talent and brought forth a hero who is more human than demigod. She has breathed fresh life into the Zorro of myth, and gifted him with a heart, a soul, a good mind, an indomitable spirit and human fallibilities. This beautifully told tale of adventure and classical romance is chock-full of swashbuckling swordplay, ocean voyages, pirate attacks, Native American lore and rites, detailed fencing episodes, social injustice, secret underground societies, evil villains, duels at dawn, damsels in distress, unrequited love, gypsy camps, noble drawing rooms, drama, rollicking humor, vivid characters, tremendous energy...and so much more. The story's narrator is even a mystery person whose identity is not revealed until the conclusion. Ms. Allende's "Zorro" is a glorious literary adventure which will provide hours of entertainment for young and old alike.
Don Diego de la Vega was born in Alto California at the end of the 18th century to a Spanish aristocrat, and the daughter of a Shoshone shaman and a Hispanic soldier turned deserter. Diego is raised alongside Bernardo, the son of his Indian wet nurse, and the two milk brothers remain inseparable throughout their lives. Although born into privilege, Diego becomes aware of social injustice at a very early age because of his mestizo blood and his bonds of friendship and brotherhood with Bernardo.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, if not a masterpiece 30 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback
Having loved House of the Spirits, and been disappointed by City of the Beasts, Zorro comes somewhere in between. Firstly, this is no literary masterpiece - it is a picaresque 'voyage and return' romp that shows how Zorro came into existence, enjoyable without being particularly challenging.

Allende has clearly done her research, and is like a kid in a sweetshop when presented with all the opportunities of the period. As she says in the 'PS' section at the back: "It was the time of the Napoleonic wars, the wars of independence in America, the pirates of the Caribbean, the secret societies, the new discoveries in science and the exploration of the world." Perhaps she tries to cram in too many of these in crafting her tale, while being too 'knowing' as a narrator to fully dive in (there are postmodern asides to the reader about the epic narrative). The fights are not particularly excitingly described, and over with quickly, while in getting through so many events no time is left to build a lasting tension.

What is refreshing is the female perspective she brings to the story, which features some strong female characters and a feminine view of Zorro's egotism without losing the appeal of the hero.

In short, worth reading for light relief and an interesting peek into the world in the early 19th century, but don't expect literature or high tension.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Welcome to La Justicia, Zorro" 24 Jun 2005
Format:Hardcover
When I was I kid I used to sit in front of the TV every afternoon after school to watch my favorite series. I spent innumerable hours seeing Zorro defend liberty and justice against awful villains like Moncada, and being amused by the clumsy Sergeant Garcia. If you experienced something similar, you will be amazed by Allende's novel, since she creates a convincing past for our beloved hero, and in the process answers several of the questions that we have asked ourselves for years.
A close friend of Zorro who remains anonymous for most of the book tells the story. This person is trying to set the record straight regarding the true story of the man who became a legend. In this effort, the narrator starts with events prior to the birth of Diego de la Vega, recounting how Alejandro met Diego's mother in a war between the Indians and the Spanish. From Diego's childhood we start seeing how this individual was shaped by the relationship with his grandmother's tribe and the search for okahue: love, justice, respect, dignity and courage.
Some of the questions that we will get answers for include how the relationship with Bernardo started, how the secret passage between Diego's house and the Zorro's hideout came into existence, why Moncada hated Zorro and why Garcia liked him, even though it was his duty to go after him. Also, the author presents us with information regarding Diego's studies in Barcelona, which allows us to gain further insight into what drives our hero.
One of my favorite aspects of this novel is how the relationship between Diego and Bernardo is described, not only allowing us to understand their brotherhood, but also as a tool to depict in simple terms the prejudice surrounding them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviews on the audio version?
Zorro [Audiobook] [Audio CD]. This is the product advertised but all the reviews are for the paperback book. What is Amazon playing at? My 5 stars is for the paper back version. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2012 by Avonova
5.0 out of 5 stars The Origin of the Sign of the Z Reimagined in Largely Picaresque Terms
"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy... Read more
Published on 23 April 2011 by Donald Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
I love this book. I am a fan of Isabel Allende and this is by far her best novel. It is based on the stories of Zorro, a character of Chilean folklore. Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2009 by B. Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
I was in love with Zorro as a child, so when I stumbled upon this novel, I had to read it. I have read a lot but never anything by Isabel Allende so be aware that I cannot compare... Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2009 by Anne-Mette Simonsen
1.0 out of 5 stars Zorro Just Didnt Win Me Over
Zorro by Isabel Allende is a new addition to my `must read' pile as for work I am off to see the show in July and I thought that I would read the book before I saw it, a bit like... Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2009 by Simon Savidge Reads
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitley 5 star
I was amazed when i read this book. This is such a deep book because there are so many possible interpretations of it. Read more
Published on 6 July 2008 by Mr. Ff Tak
5.0 out of 5 stars The Curse of Capistrano returns!
From time to time legends and icons are reborn. This has happened more than once with the Superman and Batman characters. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2008 by R. Nicholson-morton
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book ever
Ignore every other view before this one- so what it's not exactly high literature with a capital 'L' but so what- are we all snobs? Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2007 by S. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars zoro to the rescue
Lots of swashes to be buckled this book is an enjoyable romp through 19th century Spain and California. Great fun and a good holiday read.
Published on 15 Oct 2006 by Edwin
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing ... (no spoilers)
Having never read Isabel Allende but having heard much about "The House of the Spirits" I picked up this book with great expectations. Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2006 by K. Goudarzi
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