I had trouble starting Zorro because I knew I couldn't devote as much time to it as I'd want to. (Would they let me stay home from work because Zorro is trapped on a boat that's just been attacked by pirates?) Once I was relaxed at home for the holidays with nothing much else to do, though, I read this book in about 5 days.
The story begins in 1790 and spans 50 years. Born to star-crossed parents--his father a Spanish military man and his mother a Shoshone warrior--Diego de la Vega spends his mischievous childhood feeding his love for adventure but also witnessing harsh injustices done to the Native Americans by European settlers. While getting a respectable education in Barcelona, Diego focuses most on learning the art of fencing. But it's the constant oppression he sees around him that ultimately leads to the creation of Zorro and the solidity of his legend and legacy.
I've read most of Isabel Allende's books, and I always recommend them. They are full of intricate details and fascinating characters. She is a master storyteller: Her stories are easy to picture in your head, and her books are hard to put done once you get into them. This one is a guaranteed fun ride.
Settle in and enjoy it!