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Review of the Books: The Alchemist

Updated on January 14, 2013
Picture of Paulo Coelho
Picture of Paulo Coelho | Source

The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a short novel about a boy named Santiago who goes on a treasure hunt. Since being written in 1986, The Alchemist has been translated into 56 different languages and has sold millions of copies, making it one of the best selling books ever written.

Coelho's novel is written in a very simple style. Santiago's treasure hunt is an allegory for finding "your calling," in the world. The combination of these two ideas: simplicity and allegory, surprisingly make a very powerful and inspirational novel for readers who are looking to find their personal legend.

Grade: A (9.5/10)

The Alchemist Plot Summary

Santiago, often referred to as the boy throughout the novel, is a shepherd from Spain who dreams of going to see the pyramids. One day he meets a king that tells him being a shepherd is not his personal destiny.

Seeking your personal destiny, according to the king, will result in living a fulfilling and joy filled life. Ignoring your personal destiny will wear down your heart and cause you to live a bitter and resentful life. The king suggests that the boy find his personal destiny, which is to find a treasure the boy dreamed about discovering at the Pyramids.

This meeting inspires Santiago to begin his search for his treasure. On his journey he occupies different jobs, makes friends, finds love, and meets the mysterious and powerful alchemist.

The Alchemist Book Information

Paulo Coelho
1986 HarperTorch
Original Language
Country of Origin
Allegorical Fiction
Spain and Northern Africa
3rd Person, mostly from the point of view of Santiago
167 (English Softcover)

What's Great About The Alchemist

The Alchemist is a very simply written book that packs a very inspirational message: follow your personal destiny. Although life is more complicated than just following dreams, Coelho frequently states

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

to his narrator Santiago (and readers) to inspire them to never give up on their dreams.

The quote above, like many of the sayings in The Alchemist, is one of many spiritual ideas that is frequently conveyed to readers. The spiritual messages, the simplicity of the narration, and the prose in this book work together to create a beautiful story.

The Alchemist is a very inspirational book and although the characters are rather simple, readers should be able to emotionally attach themselves to them. The story is predictable, but its function as an allegory is what really makes this book work.

What's Not So Great About The Alchemist

It's hard to not think logically at times, and a lot of the plot line and narration of The Alchemist encourages readers to do just that. On a certain level the, "don't think, but trust your feelings," philosophy could be argued as one of the points of The Alchemist.

On a personal note I happen to agree with that stance up to a certain point. In a book about finding your personal destiny, trusting your instincts is very important, much like it is important in real life.

However, at some point you do need logic and thinking in order to help you find your personal destiny, too. This part of the story is very diminished, in that it hardly addresses this idea throughout the book. What I'm saying is, in a book about finding your way through life, it's important to address the important aspects of life in a balanced way, which The Alchemist certainly does not.

The Alchemist Is Recommended For...

The Alchemist is a great book if you are looking for something easy on the brain. It's short, ideas are stated in a simple matter of fact way, and its narrative is engaging. This book has a soothing effect on the brain, it quiets intruding thoughts, and it works wonders in reducing stress.

If you're into spirituality this book is loaded with a lot of great spiritual and inspiring ideas and quotes. People at a crossroad in their lives, people chasing their destiny, people who are looking to do more with their lives will certainly find a lot of support for their dreams in this book. The Alchemist is one of the most encouraging, positive, and inspirational contemporary works of fiction you can read.

What Did You Think Of The Alchemist?

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    • Music-and-Art-45 profile image

      Music-and-Art-45 5 years ago from USA, Illinois

      Hello cre8ivOne thanks for stopping by and commenting, it's good book and a quick read.

    • cre8ivOne profile image

      cre8ivOne 5 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Thank you for the overview of the Alchemist, I have not yet read this book but I think it's about time I do!