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Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist": Book Review

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a story of a young shepherd, Santiago, who dreams of travel and to leave the spanish countryside. He abandons everything and goes in search of a treasure he saw in his dreams. During his journey he learns to listen to his heart, follow the language of omens and meets an alchemist who helps him to accomplish his dream. The story teaches you to follow your dreams by seeing the world through your own eyes and not someone else’s.

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This is a novel about love, personal journey, how to follow your own dreams. It starts with Santiago visiting a gypsy woman to interpret a constant dream he has been having. She dismisses his dream and tells him of his personal legend to go to Egypt. Santiago ignores her words and leaves to go back to his sheep but when a old man named Melchizedek dressed in gold armor claims to be the King of Salem he has second thoughts. He tells Santiago that it is his personal legend to journey to the pyramids. Melchizedek convinces Santiago to sell his flock to him and go to Tangier. When Santiago leaves, he get robbed at a bar causing him to find work with a local crystal merchant. Santiago encourages the merchant to take risks with his business, becoming rich men in just a year. He decides it’s than time to finally pursue treasure at the pyramids. He joins caravan crossing the Sahara desert toward Egypt and meets an englishman who is studying to become an alchemist. He learns a lot from the Englishman during the journey. Santiago learns the Englishman plans to ask the alchemist the secret of the craft. The caravan must make a stop in Al-Fayoum, an oasis, in order to avoid a violent tribal wars in the desert. Santiago falls in love with Fatima, who lives at the oasis.

Santiago witnesses an omen, an eagle speaking to him, that predicts an attack on the oasis. He warns the tribal chieftains of the attack. The oasis successfully defends itself against the attack because of Santiago’s warning. The alchemist gets word of Santiago’s vision and invites him on a trip into the desert. The alchemist then teaches Santiago about the importance of listening to his heart and pursuing his personal legend. He convinces Santiago to leave Fatima and the caravan to finish his journey to the pyramids.

The alchemist teaches Santiago about the soul of the world and how it can speak to you. He teaches little about alchemy to him but instead reminds Santiago of his personal legend and that it there’s no alchemy in it. They are a few days away from the pyramids when a tribe of Arab soldiers captures them. In exchange for his life and the life of Santiago, the alchemist hands all of Santiago’s money and tells the soldiers that Santiago is a powerful alchemist who will turn into wind within three days. Santiago is alarmed because he has no idea how to turn into the wind, and over the next three days he contemplates the desert. On the third day, he communicates with the wind and the sun and tells them to help him create a sandstorm. He prays to the Hand That Wrote All, and at the height of the storm he disappears. He reappears on the other side of the camp, and the tribesmen, awed by the power of the storm and by Santiago’s ability, let him and the alchemist go free. The alchemist then leaves him because he has his own path to follow.

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Santiago then finally arrives to the pyramids, and starts digging in the place he dreamed of. But two men grab him and beat him, when he speaks to them about his dream, they decide he must have no money and let him live. Before leaving, one of the men tries to convince Santiago of the worthlessness of dreams by telling him about his own dream. It concerns a treasure buried in an abandoned church in Spain where a sycamore tree grows. The church is the same one in which Santiago had his original dream, and he finally understands where his treasure is. He returns to Spain to find a chest of jewels and gold buried under the tree, and plans to return with it to Al-Fayoum, where he will reunite with Fatima, who waits for him.

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Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”: Book Review. (2018, November 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 9, 2023, from
“Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”: Book Review.” GradesFixer, 15 Nov. 2018,
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