The Alchemist- Book review

The Alchemist- Book review


About the Book:

Written by: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Adventure, fantasy
Originally Published: 1988
Translation published: 1993
No. of Chapters:  13
No. of Pages: 163 (first English edition), 208 (25th-anniversary edition)
Price: Nrs. 560

The alchemist is one of the most well-known books in the world so far and it was written by the Portuguese Author “Paulo Coelho”. The authors well known for his other books as well including books such as “The fifth Mountain” “the witches of portobello” and ”Brida”. Originally the book was written in Portuguese with the title of “O Alquimista” and later became translated in over 64 languages worldwide and is one of the highest-rated books of all time. The book follows the journey of a Shepherd boy named Santiago on his quest to find his dream life and a life of peace. Originally the boy is a shepherd as mentioned but for some reason, he feels dissatisfied and goes on a journey across the lands gathering different skills and knowledge as he meets different people and does a range of jobs. As in all of his books, this book also explores the depths of a humans mind and desires and one can say that this is one of his few books that are not too dark in nature for the majority of the books written by Paulo shows the darkness that dwells within a humans mind and ways to deal with them, rather, this books main focus is on the human emotions of desires and dreams and how one can get them as well as lose them as well.

Plot summary of “The Alchemist”

At the start of the book we see a boy named Santiago, arriving with his herd at an abandoned church of which the roof had fallen long ago. He has been having a recurring dream for quite a while by then and he believes that it is some form of prophecy. He heads out into the town and asks Melchizedek, a mysterious man, about what his dream means. What was the dream that was recurring? It was about the treasure hidden in the base of Egyptian pyramids. He then sets off into the journey to Africa and to find the treasure that he believes to have been shown to him through his dreams and along the way, he meets an Englishman who speaks a lot like Melchizedek about the soul of the world and how all of the living things are connected through this one soul. He tells Santiago about the secrets of the Alchemy along the way as he too is seeking a renowned alchemist as well. They talk about a lot of things along the way but a few things that the Englishman says leaves a deep impact in Santiago’s heart, one of them being the need for a dream and how one should follow one’s true desires.

In their travel they get the news of a tribal war that was soon to happen. Once they reach the home of the alchemist that the Englishman desired to meet which is in Al-Fayoum oasis, Santiago meets a girl named Fatima with whom he falls in love with and discovers a few things about the soul of the world, through this
feeling of love that he discovered. In the desert, he gets the vision of a war and warns the elders which happens to happen very soon and as a compensation, they reward Santiago with the position but if it seems like fate has some other plans for him as the alchemist says that he will help Santiago find his treasures.

On the way, the alchemist and Santiago have a lot of deep talks and on the way to the pyramids, which is their destination, they are taken hostage, and to save him, the alchemists bluff about Santiago being magical. The thing is even in this world where magic is somewhat existent, to believe such an outrageous claim, one needs to prove it. Being in a tight pinch, Santiago asks the world soul and the spirits to help him with what knowledge he has of them and for some reason the spirits resonate with him and he is teleported outside the hostage camp.

Once he reaches the Pyramids he gets attacked by some robbers and they ask what is he doing there to which he replies that he is finding a treasure that was shown to him in his dreams. The robbers laugh and says that the robber was shown the same dream but for him, the treasure was back in Spain-where he was form, and while talking with them, he realizes that the treasure was within him and in place where he was at the first, where he was the most stress less, his hometown in the first place.

The epilogue, Santiago reaches the church from where he began the journey and finds hidden treasure there, enough to live his entire life with Fatima without any worries.

Lessons Learned from the Book

  • One can learn from the book is that “home is where you feel the most peace.” His journey in its entirety is a great metaphor for a simple but deep phrase “home is where the heart is”
  • Another major theme of this book “The Alchemist” is to never stop following the dream that you have. “You will face difficulties and you will fail a lot of times but that is not a reason to give up on your dreams which you have built for your entire life” is what the journey of Santiago says.

Best Part of the Book

  • The best parts of this book are the description of the Journey that Santiago goes through as well as the messages hidden within the book.
  • The mentioned lesson is just a small part of the total message hidden in this book as there are a lot of lines and which makes us think deep and hard about what we should do in our real life as well.
  • One of the aspects that is better in this book is that despite being in base an adventure and fantasy book, the things that are said and the words are meant is nothing magical or superficial but hard-hitting and heart touching.

Worst Part of the book

  • The things that can be called worse are virtually non-existent but there are some parts that are a bit vague even for the most brilliant minds in metaphors.
  • Another thing that can be called bad is there are a lot of metaphors that are used to reflect real life and this is not the best book for the ones who are bad at understanding or figuring out metaphors to read.
  • Although this is among the best books in the world, you need to have a certain degree of proficiency in the language to get the best out of this book.

Conclusion

I recommend “The Alchemist” to all those who like fantasy and adventure with lots of deep messages and hard-hitting lines. As mentioned above this is not the best book for those who are bad at metaphors if one is after the meanings behind the words but it is a good read for even those with limited language concepts. Some words are hard to understand but as long as you get the gist of it, they all make sense in the end. Also, this is a good way to convert an anime fan into a reader as this book somewhat reminds me of the hard-hitting lines in the “Naruto” series in some parts.