The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Book Review 002)

ISBN: 0062502182

Tagline: A Magical Fable about following your dream

This book review was long due. I had read this book over two years ago after a friend suggested it to me but never got a chance to pen down anything about it (I did not have a blog back then). After this book, I have read only one another book of Paulo Coelho, till date, i.e. Eleven Minutes and both the books were thoroughly immersive and fascinating.

About the author

Though I have written about Paulo Coelho in the book review of Eleven Minutes, I would still mention a few lines about this author (source: Wikipedia and Coelho’s official site).

Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he attended law school, but in 1970 abandoned his studies to travel throughout Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, as well as Europe and North Africa. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist.

In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves, since he considered it of bad quality. In 1986, Paulo Coelho did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.

In the following year, Coelho published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

The Alchemist

This is a simple book of 196 pages in all but is sure to keep you glued from cover to cover if you have a taste for fables with a mix of medieval mysticism, love, spirituality and thrills.

The Alchemist is the story of a boy by name Santiago (haven’t you heard that before ;-)) and how he braved against all odds to follow his dream and reach his destiny. Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd, who one night has a dream about a hidden treasure near the Pyramids of Egypt. After much thought debate and questioning, he decides to leave every thing and go out on the treasure hunt. His journey takes him through the ports, the adjacent seas, cities and the ravenous Sahara Desert (which according to the book) houses many warring clans and a constant danger of life. Santiago meets many mystical people, follows omens and listens to his heart to distinguish between the right and the wrong. All along the way the nature seems to be conspiring in his favor. He meets his love; he meets the alchemist, braves against odds and finally gets to his treasure.

Well I have summarized the book pretty quickly but it’s the journey, the encounters that the boy had and the aura of mysticism along with a twist in the tale that makes this story such an interesting read for people of all age groups. Paulo Coelho has done a brilliant job and this master-piece of his is a must read.