Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Title: The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Date of Publication: 1988

Number of Pages: 208

Plot Summary

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

Critical Review

The Alchemist goes beyond just a fantastical fiction. It is a gripping unique read that stirs a portion of past activities, present thoughts and futuristical revelations. Paulo Coelho, in my opinion, meticulously and carefully wrote this novel, as words and actions are arranged carefully in a stringent line, one leading to the other in a revelling unbroken symphony of thoughts.

The boy’s name was Santiago. Dusk was falling as the boy rrived with his herd at an abandoned church. The roof had fallen in long ago, and an enormous sycamore had grown on the spot where the sacristy had once stood.

As simple as the above statement appears, I think it stands among one of my best book openings. Beginning and endings of novels hold two important mind dents, first impression and last impression, respectively. And it’s of my opinion that the author nailed the two.

Born an explorer, young Santiago finds it really hard to sit in one place and leave according to norms and traditions. The world is out there, why circulate on a radius? The world is huge and inexhaustible. To travel the world, experience situations and see its sights, he drops all preparations to become a priest and becomes a shepherd. A desire and dream, he refuse to quench even if it meant taking the big risk of failure. An action most of us can’t imagine taking. Follow your dreams? Lol. Let’s pay the bills first. A vicious cycle we may not break from, synonymous with Santiago’s father.

From the fields of Andalusia through the land of Tangier and finally to the Pyramids of Egypt, Santiago had one buzzing passion; finding the treasure which he sought.

In light of my analysis, I wouldn’t want to delve deep and shred into the inner fabrics of the book least I leave little to the imagination of those yet to read, instead I’d share what I learnt and my criticisms.

To be honest, I don’t know where to begin. When I soaked in the last Chapter of The Alchemist, my head was buzzing and highlights decorated almost each paragraph, attached with comments. Unfortunately, I lost all my notes so it takes great effort not to feel overwhelmed by such a little book with such great amount of lessons to learn from.

Going through the book, themes illuminate from almost each page but I’d major on one: Dreams

Let’s tear the literary cast and view the world through the eyes of young Santiago. Everything starts from a dream, an idea, a sudden desire for the other side, to taste, to see, to experience. That’s why we have careers, start businesses, travel overseas, learn a trade, follow it through. We all seek a treasure, it could be wealth, recognition, fame, satisfaction, good name. But for each action that propels, spurs us to act, there’s a goal to be achieved, a treasure to be retrieved.

Are you following your passion, plans, ideas, dreams or you’re slouched on a couch, chewing on raw pity-party and complaining of how unfair the world has been?

It didn’t start today, it wouldn’t end today. Life is a cavern of uncertainties but if you do not challenge the ocean or drown in the murky waters, there would be no victory.

Follow the footprints of Santiago, and you might find yourself in a similar path. Remember:

“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it,”

People would call this the Law of Attraction, personally, I prefer to call it Faith with a strong side dish of hard work.

“Where your treasure is, therein your heart lies also,”

Follow your interest and passion, that is your path to unrivaled success.

“There’s no such thing as coincidences”

This is one of my favourite. Nothing is by chance, nothing is by coincidence. “All is One”. Out human minds are too little to comprehend what mysteries lies intertwined beyond the reach of our understanding.

Maktub, For it is written.

Santiago, through the drive for his quest and the satiation of his dreams, gains experience with a gypsy woman, an Old Priest of Salem, a Crystal Merchant, an Englishman, an Alchemist and a desert woman, whom he later falls in love with.

All play a role in the fulfillment of his quest, dormant or active. An experience leads to another and another to another. Each one, a catalyst for the birthing of the latter. An unbroken chain of sequenced events.

No such thing as coincidences.

However, as much as I am bedazzled by the inner mechanics of Paul Coelho’s mind and the gravity of what he was able to project. I would be sincere to say, I was quite exhausted being dragged page by page through absurd fantasy with a sprinkle of religious history on an unknown path to self-discovery.

At the end, I was breathless and full of comic relief that Santiago survived through and finally found his treasure, one at his starting point of the Old sycamore, and the other, across the desert, sending the wind on a lover’s errand.

Albeit this, I award The Alchemist 5/5 stars.

5-Star Ratings and Automatic Archiving for Content: Just Say No

I have never read a book like this and I doubt I might come across another as intense as this.

It is a gripping journey of magical realism, chemistry, self-discovery and spiritual awakening. I would advise you get a copy and make your own judgements and trust me, it’s worth the read. So many things to learn, you’d be overwhelmed. Click Here to get a copy.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Published by Obianuju

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