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Zorro by Isabel Allende: #AToZChallenge #BookRecommendations

Have you read the book, Zorro by Isabel Allende? If yes, what did you think? What books remind you of Zorro?

This is the LAST POST of the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2022, the 26th post in my series talking about thrillers of all stripes, mysteries, and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet. All posts are linked here, and I’ll soon have a post that compiles all of them.

Since I’m writing up thriller and crime novel recommendations, I’m also giving away a 50 USD Amazon Gift card, to support reading, and to help my next novel THE BLUE BAR along on its journey.

Entries involve:


TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF THIS GIVEAWAY, so scroll below to enter!

After You by Caroline Kepnes, I bring you Zorro by Isabel Allende.

Zorro by Isabel Allende : Book Description

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 Spain, a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule. He soon joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor. Between the New World and the Old, the persona of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins. After many adventures — duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates at sea, and impossible rescues — Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it themselves.

Zorro by Isabel Allende : Excerpt

A few days later Captain Alejandro de la Vega galloped into the mission. He leaped from his horse, tore off his heavy uniform jacket, his neckerchief, and his hat, and thrust his head into the trough where women were rinsing their wash. His horse was covered with foam; it had carried its rider many leagues, along with all the gear of the Spanish dragoon: lance, sword, heavy leather shield, and carbine, plus saddle. De la Vega was accompanied by a couple of men and several packhorses loaded with supplies. Padre Mendoza rushed out to welcome the captain with open arms, but when he saw that he had brought only two trail-weary soldiers as depleted as their mounts, he could not disguise his frustration.

“I am sorry, Padre. I have no available soldiers other than these two good men,” the captain apologized as he wiped his face on his shirtsleeve. “The rest of the detachment stayed behind in Pueblo de los Angeles, which is also threatened by the uprisings. ”

“May God come to our aid, since Spain does not,” the priest grumbled.

“Do you know how many Indians will attack?”

“Not many here know how to count accurately, Captain, but according to my scouts it might be as many as five hundred.”

“That means no more than a hundred and fifty, Padre. We can defend ourselves. Who can we count on?” asked Alejandro de la Vega.

“On me, for one—I was a soldier before I was a priest—and on two other missionaries, who are young and brave. We have three soldiers who live here, assigned to the mission. We also have a few muskets and carbines, ammunition, two swords, and the gunpowder we use in the quarry. ”

“How many converts?”

“My son, let us be realistic. Most of the Indians will not fight against their own kind,” the missionary explained. “At most, I can count on a half dozen who were brought up here, and a few women who can help us load our weapons. I do not want to risk the lives of my neophytes, Captain—they’re like children. I look after them as if they were my own. ”

“Very well, Padre. Shoulders to the wheel, and may God help us. From what I see, the church is the strongest building in the mission. We will defend ourselves there,” said the captain.

For the next few days, no one rested in San Gabriel; even small children were set to work. Padre Mendoza, who was expert in reading the human soul, knew he could not trust the loyalty of the neophytes once they saw themselves surrounded by free Indians. He was disquieted when he caught a glimpse of a savage gleam in a worker’s eye and witnessed the unwilling compliance with his orders: the neophytes dropped stones, burst bags of sand, got tangled in the ropes, and overturned tubs of tar. Forced by circumstances, Padre Mendoza violated his own rule of compassion and, without a twinge of doubt, as punishment sentenced two Indians to the stocks and dealt out ten lashes to a third. Then he had the door to the single women’s lodge reinforced with heavy planks; it was sound as a prison, constructed so that the most daring could not get out to wander in the moonlight with their lovers. A solid, windowless building of thick adobe, it had the additional advantage that it could be bolted from outside with an iron bar and padlocks. That was where they locked up most of the male neophytes, shackled at the ankles to prevent them from collaborating with the enemy at the hour of battle.

“The Indians are afraid of us, Padre Mendoza. They think our magic is very powerful,” said Captain de la Vega, patting the butt of his carbine.

“Believe me, Captain, these people know what firearms are, all right, though as yet they haven’t discovered how they function. What the Indians truly fear is the cross of Christ,” the missionary replied, pointing to the altar.


About the author, Isabel Allende

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.

Why pick up Zorro by Isabel Allende

Ok, so I’m cheating a little with this one. Zorro is not a crime novel, or maybe it is–because resistance to authority is against the law, and thus a crime.

I picked it because I love Allende, and even though this is not her best offering, it is certainly her most unusual. It is the backstory for the superhero Zorro, aka Don Diego de la Vega, whose 18th century adventures were serialized by McCulley from the 20’s to the 40’s.

I love how Allende breathes life into the character, and takes on the challenge of making something cartoon-ish and larger-than-life, quite lifelike. Allende is her lyrical and charming self with Zorro, showing off his cool, fashionable charisma, his beautiful horse–essentially retaining all the cliches, but making them work.

Pick it up if you’d like an escape read that never settles in one place, taking place in a range of of settings, each colourful and intricate. Real historical figures march on and off stage, a wide cast of characters and adventures and details keep you turning the pages. There’s tragedy and romance, but there’s also humor and heart, and I for one needed a dose of that after all the rather dark picks I’ve made so far for the A to Z.

This marks the end of the series, but hopefully you and I will continue our chat on Daily (w)rite pages, for months (and years?) to come.

Have you read the book Zorro by Isabel Allende? If yes, what did you think of it? What crime novels have you read lately ?

A to Z Challenge Giveaway

Today is the LAST DAY OF THIS GIVEAWAY to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR:

Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this


Entries are simple: click the RAFFLECOPTER link above, and follow the instructions. It calls for a Goodreads add, a subscription request, and a follow on Instagram.

If you enjoyed the post,  click on any or all of the following to stay updated:

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    I love Zorro in all his swashbuckling glory 🙂 I just finished the Whisper Network — and I’m starting on another book you recommended in April.

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: Z

  • Congrats on making it to the end! I’ve never read this title by Isabel Allende. But, it’s definitely a book that I’ll add to my “to-read” list. I’m a Zorro fan, for sure.

  • Love me a good Zorro story.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    I’ve only read more exposition of historical events from Allende. Well, I’ve only read A Long Petal of the Sea, which was absolutely gripping. I loved it, and I loved the images she brings to life. I didn’t know she wrote magical realism! I must find more of her work. Thanks for the heads up 🙂

    And well done on completing the challenge. This was a super subject and an excellent thread, if a bit dangerous for those of us with heavy TBRs. I also enjoyed Ronel’s challenge featuring books from her TBR and recently read reviews. I think I may do something along those lines next year.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Allende is fabulous, and yes, she’s the goddess of magic realism.

      Glad you enjoyed my posts, and I loved Ronel’s too! Would be cool to see you share your reads.

  • Didn’t know about this one. Good choice for Z! And here Zorro is just the foxy fox!

  • cleemckenzie says:

    Congratulations on getting to Z!

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!… will have to check out the book as I am a Zorro fan and for a number of reasons have missed some of the stories… 🙂

    Until we meet again…
    May you always be blessed
    with walls for the wind,
    a roof for the rain,
    a warm cup of tea by the fire,
    laughter to cheer you,
    those you love near you,
    and all that your heart might desire.
    (Irish Saying)

  • Ryker says:

    I grew up with Zorro, being one of my favorite heroes. I was one of those that got to watch Tyrone Power place him. I loved the additional story or origins so to speak that this book gave. I am glad this piece made it on your list.

  • Deepti Menon says:

    Zorro brings back memories of a swashbuckling hero and your post reminds me that I must read Allende! Damyanti, I wish I had been reading your posts… I love crime novels, but it is never too late to read them. Looking forward to going backwards from the letter Z! Congratulations on your latest book ‘The Blue Bar’ and on completing the challenge..

  • cassmob says:

    This sounds like an interesting read and I hadn’t known of it.

    Thank you for sharing such a fascinating set of books this month – I’ve added to my TBR list and bookmarked the series. Congratulations on completing the challenge and thanks for visiting my blog.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Pauleen, so glad to have added to your TBR, and hope to stay in touch via our blogs and social media.

  • She is SUCH a varied writer. I have her Ripper edging up to the top of my TBR mountain at the moment.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Sue, I’ve been thinking of reading Ripper. You have just inspired me. Thank you.

  • Sonia Dogra says:

    This is such an interesting premise for a story. We all love Zorro, don’t we!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Oh yeah, we do. I love that someone of Allende’s stature wrote about Zorro.

  • I never got into Allende’s books but this one might be worth a try. Thanks for the amazing list!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I loved her House of Spirits. Yes, this one can be a good introduction.

  • Wondering if the movie is based on this book ? The Mask of Zorro ?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The original Mask of Zorro (a silent film) was based on The Curse of Capistrano, a 1919 novel by Johnston McCulley. It first appeared as a five-part magazine serial. I think later films all took inspiration from this one. Allende wrote a novel based on Zorro’s ‘origin story.’