Isabel Allende gave the world a wonderful origin story for the legend of Zorro. Yes, I grew up with the black and white TV show and have enjoyed the various movies. But this story was the first tale that gave Zorro true seriousness.
This riveting tale starts with Zorro's parents and continues on from there with the birth of Diego and his antics as a boy. His milk brother (so called because they were both breast fed by the same woman) Bernado, a full blooded Native American, was born in the same week. An antic with a bear particularly stood out for me. The book then takes a more serious turn when pirates attack this California coastal village, leaving a few dead and many scarred for life. As Diego and Bernado become young men, they have an opportunity to go off to Catalan-speaking Spain to allow Diego to polish off his schooling. The antics continue, including performance in a gypsy circus, sword-training by a master of a secret society, and young love.