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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  13,930 ratings  ·  1,188 reviews
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, Diego de la Vega is a child of two worlds. His father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Spa ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 677 pages
Published May 3rd 2005 by HarperLargePrint (first published 2005)
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I Haven't Read It But I've Seen the Movie
33rd out of 183 books — 233 voters
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Latina/Latino Fiction
27th out of 492 books — 755 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Riku Sayuj

When Magical Realism Met Superheroes

Talk about an origin story.

If it were not for being Zorro’s story, this would be considered quite classy literature. Maybe it still is? I am not familiar with the critical reception.

It is finely detailed and expertly constructed, weaving history and legend seamlessly. Allende almost pulls it off, but the awareness of the ending seeps into the rest of the book, spoiling all the better moments. It might be an unavoidable thing and Allende deserves praise not bl
Suzie Quint
I have been "reading" this book for almost a year and I'm still only halfway through it so the likelihood that I'm going to finish it are diminishing by the moment.

I love the idea of this book. The story of Zorro from his childhood? Wow, what's not to like? Except the story is "told" rather than "shown." There are paragraphs that take up full pages (in a *trade* paperback no less) and pages and pages between bits of dialog. This is ungodly slow reading. How anyone can take a swashbuckling hero l
Arrivava un momento, a casa mia, quando ero più piccola, in cui bastava che andasse in onda una sigla televisiva per far sì che sulla cucina scendesse un’aura di sacertà senza eguali, era il momento in cui un cavallo nero impennava all’orizzonte e la sigla televisiva faceva così “Zorro, Zorro, ha una vita segreta; Zorro, Zorro il segno suo è la zeta”. Per quante volte avessimo già visto le trite e ritrite puntate, l’eroe mascherato di nero continuava ad avere su di noi, figlie, l’effetto che ave ...more
Aug 28, 2010 Hobart rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: 2010-reads
It takes a certain kind of skill to write a boring book about a character like Zorro, and apparently, Isabel Allende possesses such. It also takes a certain brashness to pronounce your protagonist as "fun" in the first paragraph--and several times following that--and then fail to produce any real evidence of it.

I was excited about the prospect of this book--a great pulp hero like Zorro in the hands of someone with Allende's lit cred? It'd have to be great, right?

It took maybe 20-30 pages to disa
I LOVED this book. Granted, I think Isabel Allende is one of the best authors I have ever read but despite my bias this was still a really good book! I love the story of Zorro to begin with but Isabel Allende writes it from the point when Zorro's parents meet and then how he is born and becomes Zorro. It is great historical fiction and I have always liked how Allende uses magic realism in her writing. The book gives insight into the California Mission system, as well as interesting information a ...more
This is a tough review to write. Why? Because this was the first book I've read this year that I was disappointed with.
Zorro is written by Isabel Allende, who is apparently a successful writer from Latin America. But frankly, I just don't think this was all that good. I expected more of a swashbuckling, action-packed story. Instead, the story focuses a lot on Diego de la Vega, whose alter-ego is Zorro, growing up in California and Spain. Zorro doesn't make his first appearance until something li
What is it about Zorro? Back when the Disney channel was watchable by people over age 16, they showed the Guy Williams Zorro, the ones in black and white. The show is far older than I am, but it's still cool. There was also the Zorro series on the Family Channel (what is now ABC Family). That series was good, far better than the Black Stallion series on the same channel. And who can forget Antonio and Catherine?

Zorro is the American version of Robin Hood. He works in California before the Americ
Great backstory for the adult Zorro, aka Don Diego de la Vega, whose adventures were spun out in serial form by McCulley from the 20's to the 40's. Allende renders a compelling saga at the turn of the 18th century with vivid characters from many walks of life and cultures. We get a believable vision of how an upbringing could instill the necessary balance of compassion, crafty duality, and gueriilla warfare skills that imbue the intrepid hero of the downtrodden. She takes you on a fun ride in cl ...more
I found this an interesting and entertaining book, though not necessarily a good one.

Is it possible to Mary Sue a male character? What would that be called? Because, yeah, we all know Zorro has to kick all sorts of figurative and literal ass, but apparently his only flaw is that his ears stick out, being the real reason for wearing the mask.

Allende's book is not so much a typical Zorro adventure, such as we are used to seeing in movies and on television. It's really more the story of the creatin
I was looking for a clever retelling of this fictional American homegrown hero, something with an interesting feminine twist. What I got was indeed a retelling, but not as clever or interesting as I had hoped.

This is a "tale of origin" explaining how Zorro became the masked avenger. He is born Diego de la Vega, son of a Spanish hidalgo and a fierce Shoshone she-warrior. Apparently, the author took great pains to research this book. Kudos. Despite all the research, there seemed to be something a
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
"Heroism is a badly remunerated occupation, and often it leads to an early end, which is why it appeals to fanatics or persons with an unhealthy fascination with death."

I found the early part of this book decidedly more fascinating than the last half or so. As I recall, the book sort of lost its way as it progressed, whereas the beginning was riveting. But as a whole it's another excellent piece of Isabel Allende's fiction. It was particularly interesting to me to read about early California an
May 09, 2015 Susie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susie by: Bibliotheek De Panne
- Really liked

Well, so here we are friends! Amigos!

OK, I will stop there before I get carried away. Ahem.

So, for the astute amongst you, you should have already realised that this is not the tale of Zorro that the films were based off of (look for The Mark of Zorro for that), but a different tale also based on the legend, but this covering how the legend began.

I have watched the first of the films with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones more than once (although I haven’t yet seen the m
This was the Branigan BookClub selection for November 2005.

Reading ZORRO confirms Allende's well deserved reputation as a brilliant, passionate story teller. She takes the legend of the masked man and fleshes it out into a fullblown historical novel with a depth and sweeping panorama fully the equal of the greatest epics of world literature. This is the work of an unquestioned master of story telling at the top of her form. There is not one false note, not one flawed plot line in the entire work
Is it Isabel Allende's style to bore you to death in the first half of her book and then deliver a coup de grâce at around 53% that lasts until the very end?

I gave up reading this twice. The third time, spurred on by my absolute adoration of her first novel, I was determined to finish it. I thought, "this book can't be that bad when I so loved 'The House of the Spirits'. There has to be more to it."

It was too slow. Too many unexciting events that seemed to have no point. I forgot exactly where t
JoAnne Pulcino

Isabel Allende

Zorro is a captivating retelling of the Zorro legend by an author so adept at mixing history and reality this becomes a sensational look at a swashbuckling hero.

Diego de la Vega grows up in California, raised beside his wet nurses’ son, Bernardo. Despite the class differences they become “milk brothers” for life. Diego’s sense of justice and identification with the underdog has its roots in their friendship and his outrage over the exploited natives. Sent to Spain to go to sch
الكتابة الجادة عن بطل تحتاج إلى شجاعة حقيقية، هي مغامرة، قبلتها (إيزابيل الليندي) كما نرى، بكل الشغف الذي يميز كتاباتها، فأولا ً تحتاج صناعة البطل الأدبي، إلى خلق الظروف التي يوجد فيها، خلقا ً لا يجعل صورته ساذجة، وهذه المهمة تصبح أكثر صعوبة عندما يكون البطل موجودا ً، لأن علينا عندها تحريره من ركام الكتابات السابقة التي ربما شوهت صورته، وأضافت لها الكثير من الخيال الذي أفقدها واقعيتها، وزورو من هذه الشخصيات التي كتب عنها الكثير منذ اختلقها (جونسون مكولي) سنة 1919 م بروايته (لعنة كابسترانو)، وصنع ...more
Linda Puente
If I could give this book 10 stars I would. I read it in Spanish on the recommendation of several of the people in my Spanish conversation group. Over the following year I read the entire book through at least 3 times, and some sections 5 or 6 times, and I don't reread books. I introduced it to a group of students and kids who hadn't wanted to read anything before were suddenly competing to read aloud. This book has so much action, so much history. It's kind of like The Count of Monte Cristo or ...more
Patrizia O
Da Isabel Allende mi aspettavo molto di più, nonostante i suoi romanzi da La figlia della fortuna" in poi non mi avevano entusiasmato più di tanto. Se dovessi dare un sottotitolo a questo romanzo, gli affibbierei "Il festival degli stereotipi: tutta la banalità letteraria racchiusa in poco più di trecento pagine".
very entertaining read.

I actually lost the physical book and I was halfway through. One day, I'm at the gym working on ma fitnez and reading el zorro en Espanol. my sweat starts dripping on the pages and I put it on the back holder to get adjusted in the stationary bike seat. however, I look at the timer and it's already been 37 minutes of uphill pedaling. my natural reaction, since I'm lazy, was to stop. I headed to the shower, got dressed, and left the gym with my gym bag headed back towards
I started reading this in Paris. I've been a fan of Allende's other works, not this one. It seemed stilted, less intimate, rather book-reportish. A friend then told me she'd been at a Allende lecture and that Allende had been 'commissioned' to write this. .boy does it show.
Courtney H.
A beautifully written, highly entertaining reimagining of Zorro's origins, with complex characters, and a real understanding of the racism and cultural complexities of nineteenth century California. The story and characters were rich and the story is compelling--so compelling that after 400 pages, it was frustrating to have it end. It isn't a deep book, but it isn't intended to be; it imbues this early-day superhero with a backstory worthy of the titular character, and worthy of the author charg ...more
Ci sono due diversi stati d'animo con cui solitamente faccio una stroncatura.
C'è il sottile sadismo nel parlar male di qualcosa che ti ha fatto spendere inutilmente soldi e tempo e c'è invece il lieve malessere dovuto alla necessità di intaccare lo splendore dei cosiddetti "vecchi miti". Ecco, stavolta il mio disappunto riguarda proprio uno dei miei vecchi miti...
Ho cominciato ad apprezzare la letteratura sudamericana con Isabel Allende. Solitamente è un filone che si scopre cominciando da quel
Sonia Gomes
Mar 13, 2009 Sonia Gomes rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sonia by: British Library book
Shelves: troubador
I am always enthralled by Isabel Allende’s books but Zorro did not have the same effect on me.
It is the story of Diego de la Vega who turns into the legendary figure Zorro. The story is a romantic tale of the swashbuckling adventures of Zorro, with Indians, gypsies, pirates, his love for Juliana, rescues from dungeons and vendetta with his rival Rafael Moncada thrown in. Nothing that stands out in the true Isabel Allende style.
The saddest and most horrifying part however, is how the blacks were
Grace Tjan
I feel rather underwhelmed by this book, my first by Allende. This is a story about the making of Zorro, and it has all the incidents that we might expect in such an account. Shoshone shaman grandmother who concocts magic potions; mute Indian sidekick/ milk-brother; Barcelona fencing master who is also the head of a secret society; lovely but fickle love interest; evil, sneering antagonist; fat Sergeant Garcia; gypsies; and even pirates. Everything that should make this a fun, swashbuckling ride ...more
Stephanie Ricker
Now, to preface this statement, I must say that I love Zorro. I grew up on the old black-and-white Zorro shows with Guy Williams, who is the epitome of class. I would try any book with no further information on it other than it was about Zorro. So when I say that this book is so horrible, I can't bring myself to finish it, you know what I really mean. Somehow this woman has ended up all over the New York Bestsellers List, which makes my opinion of said list sink even lower than it already was. I ...more
Jennifer Yoo
May 22, 2009 Jennifer Yoo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Jennifer by: A friend
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I did not have high hopes for this book. For some reason, some where I had read that it was terrible. I personally think that review was unfounded and untrue. Was it Charles Dickens? No. Does everyone now have a picture of Charles Dickens dressed as Zorro in their mind? Yes. I am happy to have helped. Let me help you more.


Right. I, however, had Antonio Banderas in my head for this whole book, which is wonderful. Slightly strange while Diego was a boy, and he was just a mini version, but it worke
Badly Drawn Girl
It's unfortunate that I read this book immediately after finishing Daughter of Fortune. I could hardly believe they were written by the same author. But that doesn't mean Zorro is a bad book... it's just that Daughter of Fortune is so incredibly well written that most everything else pales in comparison. So I have to look at Zorro separately from Isabel Allende's body of work. I know that she was hesitant to write this story, it was not her idea and I think that's the main reason is seems to mis ...more
Most of us above a certain age (and since the 2005 movie came out, I suppose the younger folks, too) know the basic story of Zorro. He rights wrongs and protects the weak. He’s incredibly skilled with a sword and a bullwhip. Like the Lone Ranger or Batman, no one knows who he really is. This biography of a fictional character is Zorro’s origin story, so to speak.

Told in the third person by a narrator who remains unnamed until the end, the story tells of Zorro’s- Don Diego de la Vega- birth, chi
Bookmarks Magazine

The fictional Zorro debuted in Johnston McCulley's serialized potboiler in 1919; since then, he's made some dramatic comebacks. By recasting this swashbuckling hero in the context of his personal history, Allende follows in the path of her recent historical fiction like Daughter of Fortune (1999) and Portrait in Sepia (2001). Critics agree that while Zorro is light and entertaining, it is also a serious piece of literature__even if some reviewers were confounded by Allende's mix of history and r

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Isabel Allende Llona is a Chilean-American novelist. Allende, who writes in the "magic realism" tradition, is considered one of the first successful women novelists in Latin America. She has written novels based in part on her own experiences, often focusing on the experiences of women, weaving myth and realism together. She has lectured and done extensive book tours and has taught literature at s ...more
More about Isabel Allende...
The House of the Spirits Daughter of Fortune Eva Luna Portrait in Sepia Paula

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“He realized...that the loudest are the least sincere, that arrogance is a quality of the ignorant, and that flatterers tend to be vicious. ” 42 likes
“Do you truly believe that life is fair, Senor de la Vega?
-No, maestro, but I plan to do everything in my power to make it so.”
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