The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: Book Review

The Alchemist Book Review
Ratings: The Alchemist

The Alchemist was first published in 1988 in Brazil. The book did not grab much attention and went out of print. However, a few years later, a reissue was done and it changed everything.

When it was published for the very first time, Paulo Coelho (author) was known for writing songs. As soon as the book was reissued, it gained much popularity and brought fame to the author.

It became the most recommended book ever written by Paulo Coelho. This sensational book was read by many eminent personalities, who shared their wonder and joy about reading it.

Some said that this was the most adventurous journey while others said that this was a life-changing experience.

The Alchemist soon earned Coelho, the designation of the most widely read author in the world. Further, it becomes one of the books on the top twenty-five selling books of all the time.

The plot of the novel revolves around a young shepherd from Andalusia, Spain who aspires to travel the world. Somehow, he has this recurring dream about discovering a hidden treasure in the pyramids of Egypt.

On his journey, the lad encounters many people who help him transform and attain what he aims for. Profoundly allegorical, the voyage introduces him to an ancient king, a gipsy, the crystal merchant, the love of his life and indeed the alchemist of the title who helps him in achieving spiritual enlightenment.

This adventure enables him to learn that it is not the treasure but the journey that makes it worthwhile.

Introduction of the author – Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho de Souza is a Brazilian novelist and lyricist. Born on August 24, 1947, and The Alchemist is a renowned work of all time.

Paulo Coelho booksloveme
Author: Paulo Coelho

Since teenage Coelho, aspired to be a writer. Coming from a catholic background, his family was rigorous to rules and regulations of the society.

He had been put in a mental asylum at the age of 17, from where he escaped thrice before being released at the age of 20.

His family wanted him to take up any serious career option unlike writing. He enrolled himself into a law school from where he dropped out the very next year.

Before beginning his career as a writer, he worked as a lyricist, an actor in theatre as well. Though not so impactful his first work got published in 1982, titled Hell Archives.

Paulo sole desire to be a writer was coming true. He cared not much about fame and kept on writing. His works mainly deal with the genre of drama and romance.

He gained popularity with the novel The Alchemist published in 1988 in Portuguese (language). Some of his notable works are The Pilgrimage, Eleven Minutes, Like the flowing water, Maktub, etc.

In 2018, he was working on a project of children’s book with the footballer Kobe Bryant. After the demise of the player, Coelho decided to delete the whole draft.

He has further signed for TV series based on the characters of his novel. He is in real sense, a dream chaser.

Here is the link of Paulo Coelho Blog

The Alchemist – Summary

The story opens with a little shepherd Santiago from Andalusia, Spain, who desires a few things like travelling, having wine in his wineskin and a book to read.

The boy has this dream of finding a treasure amidst the pyramids of Egypt. He visits a fortune-teller and finds the prophecy vague.

He rushes away from there, comes to a plaza and starts reading his thick book. An older man approaches him and introduces himself as the king of Salem named Melchizedek who gives him two stones – Urim and Thummim.

Following his dream, he embarks to Africa, where he is completely robbed on day one. He seeks job there and works with the crystal merchant for some time.

Reading The Alchemist
Reading The Alchemist

However, after a year, Santiago calculates that he has a sufficient amount to buy the sheep and start his life again as a shepherd again.

At the last moment, things changed and he joins a caravan heading towards Egypt. Santiago meets the love of his life, Fatima at Oasis who also wants Santiago to follow his dreams.

He moves ahead and meets a horseman who helps him in reaching his dream. Santiago reaches the pyramids where he begins weeping out of happiness.

Santiago digs wherever the teardrop falls. The robbers come and loot the gold piece he has, the head of the robbers discloses that he had also dreamt of finding treasure in Spain, near the church where the shepherds live.

Santiago discovers the hidden treasure and rushes to the love of his life, Fatima.

The Alchemist- Characters

There are various characters in this book but the important one are listed below:

Santiago

Santiago is the central character of the book around whom the plot revolves. He is a young shepherd from the Spanish province of Andalusia, who only dreams of travelling the world.

Santiago desires a few things like travelling, having wine in his wineskin and a book to read. He is a well-read lad.

While his family wants him to be a priest, he aspires to be a shepherd for his love of travelling. Though his family doubted his career choice at first, later they gave their blessings to him.

He is a courageous boy who is willing to pay any price to live life on his terms. He is taking his sheep to Tarifa, where he has met a merchant’s daughter towards whom he feels infatuated.

The boy has this recurring dream of finding a treasure amidst the pyramids of Egypt. He could not comprehend well the meaning of this dream, so he seeks a fortune-teller who fails to satiate the boy.

The chap is guided by many people on his journey of hunting the treasure. With time, he learns to listen to his heart. He also acts according to the soul of the world.

Santiago attains faith in himself and the spiritual being. Although he is being tried and tested many times by nature; he never fails to prove himself.

Slowly and gradually he learns the most important lesson of life i.e. it is the journey and not the reward that makes a quest worthwhile.

Melchizedek

Melchizedek is an old man, who introduces himself as the king of Salem to the boy. He approaches the boy while Santiago was busy reading a book.

Melchizedek initiates the conversation with the young shepherd by saying that the book he is reading is good but it has in itself the most unreal thing that we cannot change what may befall us.

He leaves the boy transfixed when he tells him that he can help him achieve his dream of discovering the treasure.

The king trades with the lad. For disclosing to him the way to the treasure, he asks 1/10th of his sheep. Not eagerly, but Santiago gives away his six sheep to the old man who, in return, gives him two precious stones- Urim and Thummim.

Additionally, he asks the boy to listen to his heart and decide for himself.

The Crystal Merchant

The Crystal Merchant is a hard-working Muslim trader who deals in the glass. He is the one who takes Santiago in his shelter and offers him the job.

The Crystal Merchant is the first person to help the young boy after Santiago is completely robbed in Tangier.

He has never been to Mecca though he has dreamt several times of going there. His business was not earning him much profit until Santiago started working with him.

However, the merchant does not like to change his way of working; he allows the lad to make a glass model for his shop.

The trade takes a hike and the boy’s arrival at the shop is granted as a good omen by the crystal merchant.

The Alchemist

The Alchemist is the legendary man on whom the title of the book is based. He meets Santiago at the Oasis in Al-Fayoum.

The Alchemist is depicted as a two hundred years old man who has been waiting for the boy. He is the one sought by an Englishman, who is the fellow companion of Santiago on his journey with caravan.

Even though, the Englishman finds him and reveals the purpose of his meeting; the alchemist decides to invest his energy in young shepherd.

He appears as a horseman on his first meeting with the boy. The Alchemist also stretches his sword to the boy’s head, but finding him fearless he accompanies the lad to the pyramids of Egypt.

Alchemist becomes the spiritual guide to the boy. He makes him learn to listen to his heart and to believe in the way of the world.

The Message

The Alchemist provides the message of following the dream and believing in fate. One must do a thing because it is what his heart and soul desires.

When we follow our dreams, it not only gives us happiness but it also is the will of the soul of the world. It teaches us that even if faced with adversity, one should not stop striving for what he wants.

Be courageous and keep dreaming. Your soul is the guiding spirit of your life and it is only you, who has an awareness of your soul’s desire.

As Shakespeare says, “All’s well that ends well”, it is the ultimate truth which applies to our life as well. We must not lose our hopes. We fall to rise again.

Those who are consistent and fearless in their chase they are certain to attain what they desire. Just like the young shepherd Santiago, one should keep moving ahead defeating each hurdle which appears as a hindrance in the way.

It is essential to be self-aware and conscious of who you are, what you are capable of and what you aspire to be.

Being focused and determined towards the goal is another important lesson the novel provides us. We should be willing to pay whatever price it takes for the fulfilment of our dreams.

For an individual who is a dreamer, the only mantra for success is to be unwavering and brave for what he wants.

The Alchemist Review

The Alchemist Insights
The Alchemist Insights

On the scale of 1-5, it is a 4. One must purchase it for the beauty of the novel. Not only will it help you learn the true meaning of the dream, but also it will enable you to give your life a meaningful shift.

It may even change your perspective towards the world and yourself as well. It can be a life-changing experience. The language used by the writer is lucid and comprehensive easily for the non-academic readers too.

The genre in which the novel is written is magic realism. The writer has smartly played with the appropriate words.

Nevertheless, the book was written in just a few days but as a reader, it becomes difficult to find a loophole in the structure of the novel.

The novel holds the capacity to do wonders and perhaps, it is just another reason why it has been translated into numerous languages.

The plot is nothing new that we are not aware of but at the same time when you read the text, it awakens the sleeping spirit within oneself.

You feel a deep connection with the protagonist. There are chances of having catharsis by the end of the novel.

In other words, the story is simple yet beautiful in its own way. It is the kind of book which requires a room in every reader’s shelf.

So, if you are in a dilemma to whether or not buy it; better not think twice and grab the copy. Happy Reading!

Best Quotes from the Alchemist

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”

“You came so that you could learn about your dreams,” said the old woman. “And dreams are the language of God. When he speaks in our language, I can interpret what he has said. But if he speaks in the language of the soul, it is only you who can understand”

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times”

“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it”

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

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