Book Review | English

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

March 30, 2019

Title : The Alchemist
Author : Paulo Coelho
Published : in 2002, HarperCollins edition
Publisher : Thorsons
Page : 177
Cover Edition : Paperback
Languange Edition : English
ISBN : 978-0-00-715566-8 
 It is the story of a shepherd boy from the Spanish region of Andalusia who dreams of traveling the world in search of a treasure as desirable as any ever found. From his home he journeys to the exotic markets of North Africa and then into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him …

The Alchemist is an unforgettable fable about the essential wisdom of listening to our heart and, above all, following out dreams.

My rating : ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting, he thought, as he looked again at the position of the sun, and hurried his pace.


Santiago, a son of a farmer, decides to drop out from seminary at sixteen. He doesn’t want to be a priest, instead he wants to be a traveler. His father told him there is nothing much to see out there, not much different from where they are, and traveling needs a lot of money so the only way to travel is by being a shepherd.

โ€œWell then, Iโ€™ll be a shepherdโ€

Is all his answer, the boy already made up his mind and determined to follow his passion. His father then gives him gold, enough to start his dream.

Two years passed, he owned enough sheeps to sell their fur, has been to various places, and met many people. Even in all those year as shepherd, he formed a special bond with his sheep. They know when the boy will wake up, and the boy knows very well each one of them.

One day, when they are stopping and sleeping in a old church with the sycamore grown within, the boy getting a similar dream every night. Feel curious about the recurring dream he goes to Tarifa, to find a Gypsy woman who is known could interpret a dream. The woman tells him to go to the Pyramids in Egypt to retrieve his treasure just like his dream. She even asks one-tenth half of the treasure as her payment.

The boy get confused whether should he believe what the woman said, to go after the treasure, which mean go to a totally new place something that he never imagine, and sell all his sheep. Or just keep being a shepherd continue his journey to meet the daughter of a merchant that he falls in love with. He stops in a place to think it all over, there he met an old King who also encouraged him to pursue his dream.

In the back page of the book, there is a short profile and also an interview of  Paulo Coelho regarding his books, including The Alchemist. Reading it made me think this book is a personal experience of the Author himself, but written in more kindly and simply way.

The Alchemist itself, is more like a spiritual journey of Santiago where he pursued his dream with all the uncertainty and the risk it has.  He’s not alone in this journey there are the old king, the alchemist, the Englishman, the crystal merchant owner, there are good omens, and even things which help him to reach his destination. An omen, in my understanding it is a good sign from the Godโ€”or universe if you don’t believe in God, to continue a journey.

And as a someone who has a religion, I found there are some bible passage written by the author in different way but carry a similar meaning. Interesting because it made the story more universal that way.

Itโ€™s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of whatโ€™s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. Thatโ€™s the worldโ€™s greatest lie.

Through the book, Paulo Coelho wants to tell us that we have control of our own life, so itโ€™s up to us to decide where we want to go and what we want to do (just make sure it wonโ€™t harm anybody though). When we have dream some of us are too afraid or too comfortable with our current position to pursue it. Itโ€™s okay if we decide not to, but remember that the dream will not go away, it will keep coming to us, every time until it fade and by then we realized that itโ€™s too late to pursue it. But when we have the resolution to pursue it, no matter what the universe will help to achieve it.

When a person really desires something, all the universe conspire to help that person to realize his dream

Some reader disliked how this book ended, thinking that what Santiago did for the whole journey is a waste. I personally think  the process is more important than the goal, because itโ€™s where he learned a lot of things. Whether it’s the places we go to, or the people he meet along the way. Just like how he learned from the desert, the pyramid, the English man, and the alchemist. If you have a dream and feel stuck, this book is a recommended to read, as it can inspire and encourage you to follow your dream.

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