The Alchemist (book review)

The Alchemist narrates the story of a young shepherd boy named Santiago from Andalusia who follows his recurrent dream of a child telling him about a hidden treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. He seeks for an interpretation where an old woman says to him that he will discover it at the monuments. He, therefore, sets out on a journey in search of it. Along the way, he meets the King of Salem who introduces to him the idea of Personal Legend by telling him to sell his sheep so that he can travel to Egypt. The basis of the book is the idea of personal legend, developed when someone is still young, which is what one has always wanted to accomplish. The King further told him ‘when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it’ (Coelho).

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Santiago met an Englishman during his journey which was searching for an Alchemist who lives in an oasis. Therefore, they traveled together, and upon reaching there, Santiago met an Arabian girl, Fatima and fell in love with her. He promises to marry her after completing his journey, as he understands that true love should not hinder him from achieving his legend. At the oasis, Santiago meets the Alchemist who teaches him about realizing his true self and offers to cross the desert with him. He finally gets to the Egyptian pyramids where after digging he does not find any treasure; he is instead robbed by thieves. Santiago then learns from the thieves that the treasure was in the ruined church. Upon returning to Andalusia and the ruined church, he finds the treasure beneath the sycamore tree where he had slept.

The book is a masterpiece in teaching about the importance of following our dreams. By listening to what the heart is speaking to us and identifying life opportunities and learning to take advantage of them, we will be able to accomplish what we so much desire. Courage is also essential when it comes to achieving personal legend. Santiago, even after being threatened and his life put in danger, he does not lose sight of his desires. When the alchemists tell their captors that Santiago can change himself into a wind, he masters his courage just to achieve success and save their lives (Leinwand).

The emphasized the power of believing in oneself which changed my appreciation for people. Personal belief can either hinder or enhance your ability to achieve your life goals. Santiago in this book is undergoing numerous tests all along his journey, just to prove the importance of his dream. It is because of his apparent belief that there was a possible treasure for him that he wavered not, but accomplished his goal. Some individuals tend to argue that the story is brainwashing people such that they are unable to think about their dreams. However, more and more people in America and all around the world are reading it, and it is changing their lives.

I would recommend the book to anyone who would like to experience a change in their lives. The book is simple yet with powerful life lessons teaching about perseverance, personal belief, and importance of pursuing your dreams and life goals. It is, however, paramount to understand that to some the book may not make sense because it seems too fictional and unrealistic to just follow a dream.


Works Cited

Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. London: Harper One, 2014.

Leinwand, Laurie. “5 Life Lessons Driven Home by Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’.”, 15 July 2016, 15 November 2017.