El Zorro, the Curse of Capistrano, is, according to the government, a highwayman, a vicious bandit who steals from the hardworking. But the caballeros, friar, and poor know the truth. El Zorro is a hero. Defending the defenseless and meting out justice in a corrupt government is Zorro’s mission, but he does it with such aplomb, he wins the hearts of the just, including Senorita Lolita Pulido, the daughter of a man with good blood who has been disgraced by the governor.
El Zorro’s first entrance is in the local bar, where Sergeant Gonzalez has been boasting of facing down Zorro and his 20 followers. Not a word of it’s true, and Zorro slaps the sergeant across the face, humiliating him in front of all present. But Zorro takes few things more seriously than honor, and Gonzalez is not an honorable man. The soldiers are ready for blood, but Don Diego Vega’s entrance seems to calm everyone. Don Diego is a caballero, but he isn’t exactly robust. His blood and family name command respect, however. He often complains of tiredness and though he wishes to marry Senorita Lolita Pulido, he can’t summon the energy to court her. In short, he’s a bit of a joke.
The story here is classic but not complicated, and what wins the novel is the dialogue. It’s quickly apparent that Don Diego’s insipidness is a front for his true spirit, but the gullibility of those around him, who see only what they want, is really funny. Plus, el Zorro is harsh, and his insults are both humorous and stinging.
Armando Durán narrates, and he is absolutely fantastic, so much so that I happily did chores for about four hours Friday night, including cleaning out my closet, so I could have more time with The Mark of Zorro.