After hearing Will Smith and Anthony Robbins rave about this book, I knew I had to check it out. I try to take advice from successful people, so I went to do some research on The Alchemist. I found out that “The Alchemist” is the most translated book from a living author in the Guinness Book of World Records (71 languages) so it’s really legit.
This epic fable is about discovering your own Personal Legend and fulfilling it. Coelho is famous for his fable self-help books. They wind you through the colorful stories with hidden self-improvement gems, and they really provoke breakthroughs within the reader – and the Alchemist does not disappoint.
The book is about a journey of a young shepherd named Santiago who travels from Spain to Egypt because a recurring dream haunts him. He consults a gypsy about the dream, and she advises him to go to the desert. After that, he meets a man named Melchizedek, who tells Santiago that it is his Personal Legend to journey to the pyramids. This instance of repeated signs towards a dream reminds me very much of my own journey to Thailand, where I truly found myself. The month-long journey kept coming up in obvious ways that helped me sort through the mysticism and made me realize it was a calling.
Santiago picks up what the Universe is laying down and sells his flock and heads to Tangier.
When gets there, he gets robbed and needs to find new means of completing his journey. (This also happened to me in Thailand, at a fake travel agency where I bought a month’s worth of trips).
He finds a local crystal merchant and begins working to earn some money. Along the way, they teach each other lessons and Santiago encourages the merchant to take some big risks with his business. The risks pay off, and Santiago becomes rich within a year. He decides to continue his personal journey into the pyramids to find treasure. (I got my last work pay cheque and lived more frugally thanks to my new Israeli soldier companion who had agreed to protect me and split the costs of hostels and food to keep me alive).
While crossing the Sahara desert, Santiago meets an Englishman who is studying to become an alchemist. He teaches him about the Emerald Tablet (which holds the secret of alchemy), The Master Work (Ultimate Creation of Alchemy), The Philosopher’s Stone (turns lead to gold), and a liquid called Elixir of Life that can cure all ills. The Englishman is going to a Saharan oasis to find a 200-year-old alchemist to discover the secret of his trade.
When they get there, Santiago falls in love with Fatima who lives at the Oasis. There are tribal wars in the desert, but they have never affected Al-Fayoum. Santiago receives an omen of an attack and after alerting the tribal chieftain – they succeed in defending themselves against it.
Once The Alchemist hears about Santiago’s vision, he invites him into the desert and teaches him the importance of listening to his heart and his Personal Legend. He becomes convinced to leave Fatima and the caravan to pursue his journey.
Santiago learns about the Soul of the World through The Alchemist. Days away from the pyramid, they get captured by a tribe of Arab soldiers. Santiago gives his captures all of his money. The Alchemist tells them that he is a powerful alchemist that will turn to wind in 3 days. Santiago taps into his power through contemplation and within three days can connect with the wind and the sun and creates a massive sandstorm!!
He prays to “The Hand That Wrote All,” and he disappears then reappears on the other side of the camp. The tribesmen were so impressed by the storm and Santiago’s ability, that they let him and The Alchemist go free!
The Alchemist continues to travel with Santiago, and he shows him how the power of the Philosopher’s Stoned and turns lead into gold. He gives Santiago gold and sends him on his way. Santiago begins digging for the treasure at the foot of the pyramids, but two men accost him and beat him. When Santiago speaks to them about his dream vision, they decide he must be broke and let him live.
Before leaving, one of the men tells Santiago that dreams are worthless- and he shares his own recurring dream. It’s about a treasure buried in an abandoned church in Spain where a sycamore tree grows. The church is the same one that Santiago had his original dream, and he finally understands where his treasure is!!!!!!! EPIC!!!!
He returns to Spain and finds 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 is waiting for him!
This story gave me so much damn faith; it’s unreal. It’s easy to see how this book could so mystify Will Smith and Tony Robbins. The concept of having a Personal Legend means so much to me. For every plan of mine that’s ever been derailed, every relationship that didn’t work out, every opportunity that I’ve lost, I’ve always thought back to this book and said: “It’s not part of my journey then.” Which means this book is worth its mental-health weight in gold.
Coelho also illustrates that it’s important to learn from everyone we meet in life- even those we don’t think we can. Having an open heart and an open mind is what got Santiago through each of these challenges, which in the end helped him to fulfill his journey. Each encounter was a stepping stone of knowledge that he would ultimately need to succeed.
So what I got from this book was that the key to success is hope, resilience, and an open mind and The Alchemist perfectly illustrated that. I will buy anything that Paulo Coelho puts out!! The man’s a self-help fable genius.
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If you like this Review, you should also check our other Paulo Coelho Book Review: