The Mark of Zorro by Yuri Rasovsky, based on the book by Johnston McCulley
Genre: Audio Drama
Audiobook Published by: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Val Kilmer and a Full Cast
Audiobook Length: 3 hours 9 minutes
My Reading Format: Review copy sent to me by the audiobook publisher for consideration.
Audio Sample: Thank you to Blackstone Audio for this audio sample of The Mark of Zorro.
Available Formats: Audiobook
Summary from Blackstone Audio
Set in Los Angeles during the era of early nineteenth century Colonial Spanish California, the story introduces us to wealthy, young aristocrat Don Diego de la Vega, son of the richest ranchero in the country. Don Diego is an idler who has never concerned himself with more than the cut of his clothes. Unlike other full-blooded youths of his age, he presents himself as a fop, lacking in vigor, vitality, and strength. But Vega’s timorous reputation is merely a mask to conceal his alter ego—El Zorro. As Zorro, dressed in black and wearing a mask, he is transformed into a cunning swordsman who fearlessly pulls off dashing and daring escapades in his quest to avenge the helpless, aid the poor and oppressed, and punish cruel officials. Deemed an outlaw by California’s corrupt governor, he is ever-hunted by the Commandante of La Reina de Los Angeles, Capitan Ramón, and his henchman, Sergeant Pedro Gonzalez.
Forced to find a wife or lose his inheritance, Diego sets off to romance the fiery, outspoken Lolita Pulido, the most beautiful señorita in Los Angeles. Unimpressed with Diego’s passionless efforts to win her affections, Lolita finds herself attracted to the dashing and courageous Zorro. With the Pulido family having been impoverished by the corrupt governor, her father would see her married to the rich Don Diego. At the same time, the nobly born, but morally dissolute, Captain Ramón has also taken an interest in the fair señorita, making matters worse. As tensions heighten between Ramon and the Pulido family and pursuit of the masked avenger intensifies, Zorro leaves his mark on those who would perpetrate injustice.
I had never listened to an audio drama or a full cast production before listening to The Mark of Zorro. I wasn’t sure if this medium would be for me, but three hours was a minimal investment on my part. Val Kilmer certainly sweetened the deal (I’ve always been on Team Ice Man). I shouldn’t have worried at all. I had fun with it from the first moment I heard the music begin. I’ve mentioned before how much I don’t care for sound effects within audiobooks, but what first caught my attention with this listen was how much I enjoyed the music and the sound effects. With an audio dramatization, sound effects are essential. The reader needs to hear everything that’s happening in order to fully visualize the action taking place. The sound production for The Mark of Zorro did just that. It was fantastic. This has me reconsidering my opinion of sound effects in audiobooks. If they can add to the story in a dramatization, can they not, when done well, add to a traditional audiobook as well? Based on this listen, I’ve got to keep an open mind going forward.
I loved every moment of Don Diego’s duplicitous laziness and feigned inability to attract a mate. It was during those scenes that Val Kilmer shined the brightest. Certainly he gave Zorro his best bad boy hero, but when he was having fun keeping everyone around him in the dark, he was perfect. While I enjoyed his performance, Kilmer wasn’t the only delight. I knew that this was a full cast production when I started listening, but I didn’t research who else performed with Kilmer. I was happy to catch Lorna Raver if ever so briefly. There were two voices that I knew I recognized. Scott Brick’s voice is so distinct that it didn’t take me long to figure out that he was the governor. The voice I couldn’t figure out on my own was Meshach Taylor, who was Sgt. Gonzales. The remaining cast were equally entertaining throughout.
There are times as a reader I like to be surprised by a secret. There are other times, as with The Mark of Zorro, when being in on the secret is a pure treat. Taking a chance on a different audiobook genre opened my eyes to a whole new storytelling experience. This will not be my last audio drama. It didn’t work out for me during the 2012 Armchair Audies, but I’m hoping to be able to complete the Audio Drama category in 2013. Audio dramas are great fun. If you have yet to listen to one, I highly recommend The Mark of Zorro. Like me, you might just start wielding your pen like a sword and drawing Zs over the names of misbehaving coworkers.