Thursday, June 29, 2006
Zorro (2005) Isabel Allende translated by Margaret Sayers Peden
Last summer, when “The Legend of Zorro” was out, I saw this book, but assumed it was related to the movie, and didn’t pick it up.
Isabel Allende tells the story of Diego’s childhood and youth–the events in his life that turned him into Zorro, while allowing him to play the fop to keep his identity secret. We learn of his birth, and the birth of Bernardo, and how the two grew up together, and influenced each other. It also tells of his time in Spain, where he continued to learn to fence–and where he fell in love.
I really enjoyed this book. Fencing, fighting, pirates–and just a touch of romance. I loved seeing how Diego and Bernardo grew into the men they became. And I especially liked Bernardo’s character. One of the things I remember most clearly is a scene with Bernardo, and I always wanted to know more about him. And there is lots in this story about Bernardo.
In many ways, this is the book that I wanted The Mark of Zorro to be. Diego is intelligent, athletic, daring, and romantic. Bernardo is strong, loyal, and wise. Plus, she has added in some strong female characters–an added bonus.
The pacing of the story was very good. It moved quickly–as a swashbuckling adventure should–but there were lots of details about the time and place. Bits of the story reminded me of Arturo Perez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste. Maybe there’s something about the time period; pistols were not yet reliable and convenient, so swords were still commonly used (although pistols made a nice ace in the hole.)
Diego is, of course, interesting. He has to grow into the man that we know he becomes, and we see the start of the conflict between Diego and Zorro–how he learns to keep them separate and to hide the truth, and also how he relies upon Bernardo to temper his wilder impulses.
Isabel Allende’s Zorro is a worthy heir to the Zorro tradition, providing background and depth to one of the original superheroes–only a superhero whose feats came from athleticism and cunning rather than special powers and technology.