Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

About Author:

Paulo Coelho is the author of more than 25 books and “The Alchemist is the first one published when he was 38 years old. For the first 6 months only one copy was sold in its original Portuguese language. The fate changed when it got translated in English after some years. He is the winner of numerous literary prizes and has been a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 2002.

  • In 1974, he was imprisoned for a short time by the military dictatorship then ruling in Brazil.
  • In 1980, he experienced one of the defining moments of his life when he walked the five hundred–plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.
  • In 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Summary of Book:

This is a fictional story of a boy name Santiago who along his journey of personal legend met many people. After discussing his ambition with his father to travel around the world, he decided to be a Shephard as their family can afford to do this through this profession only. He left the house with three golden coins that he received from his father as blessings. Now as a shepherd he lives near a ruined church and travel around the region of Andalusia.

From last few nights he was dreaming the same dream that he is at Egyptian pyramid and searching some treasure. And to know about it more he contacted a Gypsy who told him that his dreams can come true and she will guide him but in exchange she wants the 10% of the unfound treasure which he promised to give.

Next, he met a King at plaza who gave him Urim and Thummim (magical stones) which he uses only once during his entire journey. And also, some important lessons to begin his new journey.

When he landed in the different country he encountered with a disguised thief and lost all his money and hope to travel further or go back to his home town.

Then he spends almost a year at the same place working under a crystal merchant who also shares his own wish to travel to Mecca which never came true. During that one year he amassed a lot of money to travel again.

Now he met an Englishmen who is in search of an alchemist. And he has his personal desire is to turn the metal into gold. And they reached an oasis in the desert which is a neutral territory during the war and no side attack the oasis. Here he also met his love Fatima who seems more precious than his treasure hunt but she persuaded him to carry on his journey as desert women are accustomed to wait and she don’t want to be a hindrance for his journey.

One day after watching falcons and desert he predicted that the oasis is in danger of war and told it to chief of oasis who later rewarded him for his correct prediction. And that prediction also led him to the real Alchemist who teaches him many lessons during his later journey and saves him from many dangers as well. One of them was when he has to change himself to wind as an Arab chief captured the Alchemist and the boy. And to do that he took the help of desert, wind, sun and his own soul. That scene from the book reminds me a wonderful movie “Lucy”.

Finally, he reached the pyramid and there after digging for many hours he couldn’t find the treasure. Then few Arab refugee came who made the boy continue digging, but he found nothing. As the sun rose, the men began to beat the boy. He was bruised and bleeding, his clothing was torn to shreds, and he felt that death was near. At last, the leader told him something which is the climax of story and I won’t reveal it.

Favorite quotes from the book apart from the most famous one- When a person really desires something……:

  • It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.
  • At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.
  • If you start out by promising what you don’t even have yet, you’ll lose your desire to work toward getting it.
  • We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.
  • When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force.
  • Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World.
  • It’s not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil, it’s what comes out of their mouths that is.
  • One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.
  • The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.
  • Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.
  • Usually, the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives.
  • When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.
  • When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.
  • 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.
  • No project is completed until its objective has been achieved.

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