There’s this vibe that comes from books that have been passed from generations to generations. They, often times, possess old-time secrets, forgotten methods, and a whole lot of mind-boggling knowledge. They’re perfect. The Alchemist is a fable about pursuing one’s dreams and magic. Real pure confusing out-of-this-world magic. Written in such format as “the richest man in Babylon“, it takes the reader far back to worlds forgotten and all around the world. One thing that has not been uncommon to this book, however, is controversy. Most of it is as a result of its use of Alchemy, magic, and a unique religious perspective. In the version I read, what followed the story itself, was an interview with the author that debugged some of the issues that have been raised on the book, over the years; a biography of the author, a segment on lifelong questions that have no answers, and a prelude to another best seller, “manuscript found in Accra”. Page count is 208.
The story is about a young shepherd who left his home town in Andalusia to pursue his dreams of travelling the world. Over the course of travelling through different cities and countries, he has a dream about a certain treasure, and that mapped out the path towards his destiny. His sojourn to finding his treasure made him meet various kinds of people in various cities. Some of them include: An opportunist gypsy, a wise king who knew of the supernatural, a scammer posed as a friend, a ‘wannabe‘ alchemist, a crystal merchant, and a true alchemist. He went through immense danger, had to live through tribal wars, and fell in love; all before he could find his treasure. What made up the points to note, were the lessons he picked up on the way and the knowledge he acquired from the various kinds of people he met.
For one, the wise king taught him about omens. Signs, so to speak. The idea is to recognize everyday things as omens, good or bad, that would either send you in the right direction to fulfilling your destiny, or completely trod you off your path. For example, butterflies were seen as a good omen. He also explained the principle of favourability and beginners luck. The knowledge of these, guide you as you walk towards your goal. Things, however, got complicated when the boy started learning about Alchemy and reaching into the soul of the world. Alchemy in its basic sense, is the transmutation of matter; transforming metal to gold via chemical practices. On the soul of the world, the idea is that “Everything is written in the soul of the world and would stay there forever” in essence, everything has a soul. The sun, the wind, your heart; all of these things speak to you and only people who can discover that knowledge would be able to decipher it. They have the power to warn you where danger lurks, and will never lead you astray.
You should already be able to tell of the major confusion that part can offer you. I mean, it is, in reality, just a fable but the author’s usual subliminal approach to religion would leave you wondering if you can really talk to the sun to turn you into a great wind. There were other values The Alchemist passed, and a number of other old proverbs it dropped.
“…everyone believes the world’s greatest lie. It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie”
“‘When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it,”
“If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
The Alchemist is a one-of a-kind book and its aim is to nudge people into going after their destiny regardless of their inherent limitations. It creates optimism in the minds of the reader and a child-like belief of miracles and magic. It’s all fiction, but it was delivered with a tone so true, that it comes across as believable. What was more confusing was the interview with the author, where he spoke about getting rid of the notion of time, and how everything is only one thing. In all honesty, there is no point going over how I do not subscribe to a whole lot of his beliefs, because religion would always be a topic of controversy. All in all, this book is one heck of a book and I recommend it for only those that have hunger for exotic forms of knowledge.
I rate it a 4 out of 5. You can give it your own rating below.
Get a copy of this on Amazon.
About the Author
‘Paulo Coelho de Souza is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. Early in 2017 he has been nominated by the Albert Einstein Foundation as one of the 100 leading visionaries of our time. His novel The Alchemist has been translated into 81 languages. According to The Washington Post, Paulo Coelho has sold an estimated 350 million books and is the all-time bestselling Portuguese-language author.’ (Source: Wikipedia)