‘Zorro-the novel” more than a swashbuckling hero on his noble steed

 

Zorro.jpg

I have always had the hugest character crush on Zorro and the image of a sexy, smart, heroic, witty and charming character is fully reinforced in Isabel Alllende’s ‘Zorro-the novel’. Allende finally helps us meet and know the person behind the legend.

 You learn about the boy and his journey to becoming the Zorro we all know today. You finally understand why his brother/ side-kick Bernardo is important to de la Vega’s yearning for justice and his protective stance toward California’s Indians. And you finally understand his hatred for childhood nemesis, Rafael Moncada, and what happened for him to detest him into adulthood.

Born Diego de la Vega in 1795, Zorro is the son of a Spanish soldier-turned-don and his Native American wife. The young Zorro grew up heavily influenced by his grandmother, a Native American shaman and his “milk brother”, Bernardo. Due to these roots he adopts the title of Zorro from his totem and his spirit walk and so you understand why the character is cunning and outfoxes his enemies (Zorro is fox in Spanish)

Despite his class, wealth and privileges, Diego’s ties to the natives instil in him a hunger for justice. And when he is sent to Spain for his education he joins a secret society, La Justicia, that battles oppression and teaches him most of his fighting and sword skills that help him become a successful Zorro. In fact Zorro is born in Spain and he fights his first battles for the persecuted here.

But he returns home to California in good time to defend his Native people

What is intriguing about the novel is the unidentified narrator who tells the story (which becomes a ‘twist’ in the end) and you learn about his early days in conversation with yourself and the narrator. While this style of writing tends to slow down the pace at times it helps to cover the vast terrain of his life ensuring you don’t end up nodding off.

What I truly loved is the connection he has with Bernardo and his Native Family as it makes his struggle more real and personal. You finally understand his passion for the people as they are his roots and he isn’t a noble saint out to protect the masses-well maybe to an extent he is, but at least you know why he becomes the legend!

Sometimes it does get a tad bit sentimental, awkward and exaggerated but then again so did the film. Another negative was his grandmother White Owl who seemed a bit too New Age and gaga.

In the end Zorro is more than a swashbuckling adventure as it adds more depth to the character we have grown up watching but never understood. It is engaging and action-packed and Allende creates an engaging and real hero that might be based on a Hollywood version but is still relatable and not just cute accent and great bottom. It is fabulous action fiction and I recommend you read it with a bowl of popcorn and not be tempted to carve out your own z into your arch rival (I have to admit I was sorely tempted- En garde!)

Get it at Simply Books, Waiyaki Way, ABC Place.

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