"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Zorro



When I first heard Isabel Allende had written a novel about Zorro, I went crazy with excitement. Ms. Allende is one of my favorite authors and Zorro, one of my favorite and beloved characters. What a pairing! I wasn’t disappointed. Allende’s Zorro is wonderful.

Told from the point of view of a close friend of Zorro’s aka Don Diego de la Vega, the novel tells of Zorro’s origins from his birth to his time in Spain to his return to California. Diego is born to Don Alejandro de la Vega and Regina, a mestizo whose real name is Topurnia. The character of Regina is fascinating, she is herself a warrior, chosen by wolves and she meets Don Alejandro while storming the very mission he is there to defend. She teaches the young Diego the language of her people and takes him without her husband knowing to the Indian village where he learns of her people’s ways and traditions.

Ms. Allende’s storytelling leaves no detail unturned, we meet Diego’s milk brother Bernardo and learn of their strong bond of friendship, and we travel to Spain, a Spain during the Napoleonic era. Diego is wonderfully complex in learning to live with his duality both as Diego/Zorro and as a Spanish hidalgo/indigenous man. His concept of honor is developed early, his love for his mother’s people is deep, and his horror at the way the Dons treat indigenous people is captured perfectly by the author.

We learn of his instruction in swordsmanship by the famed Escalante, which eventually leads to the joining of a secret society. There is intrigue, travel, romance, and betrayal. We even get to meet the famed pirate Jean Lafitte.

Isabel Allende offers a fresh, action-packed new dimension to her Zorro and he crackles with his new life in this fantastic and swashbuckling novel.

No comments: