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Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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by Isabel Allende

translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

<> Reviewed June 20, 2005.
HarperCollins, New York, 2005.  390 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (MCN F ALL).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#2, Literary Fiction)
I’ve always loved the Zorro legend.  Something about the black mask and black cape, about the hero riding up on a black horse and setting things right.

I’ve long heard about Isabel Allende as a good writer, but hadn’t read anything by her, so when she wrote a novel about the origins of Zorro and how he developed his skills, I couldn’t resist.  I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

The book doesn’t tell about the traditional Zorro legend, but starts before that.  It tells the story of Diego de la Vega and how he became the legendary Zorro.  The book starts with an Indian uprising, when a Spaniard in Mexico discovered that the Indian warrior uniting the tribes was actually a woman.  She ended up being Diego’s mother.

We hear about Zorro’s unique life in California, learning the ways of the Indians as well as the Spaniards.  Then in Barcelona, he got more training, fell in love and began to confront injustice.

There are all sorts of adventures in this tale, from boys catching a bear to a ship being taken by pirates.  We learn what made Zorro the dashing figure he ended up being and how he was able to seem to be in two places at once.

This novel is absorbing, swashbuckling reading.  Magnificently done!

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund. All rights reserved.

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