The Alchemist: A Review

By Tam Nguyen.

A Review on The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

As I wandered aimlessly through lines of bookshelves, The Alchemist captured my attention with its cover of the sun glowing brightly above the great ancient pyramids. Hungry for an exotic adventure story through the hot, dry desert, I bought the small book but gradually realized that the book is more than just a simple fascinating, engaging story.

It is a book about life itself.

Santiago, the protagonist referred to as “the boy” throughout the story, is a shepherd with a love for travelling. As the story begins, a strange dream about a hidden treasure lying deep in the Egyptian pyramids keeps haunting Santiago’s sleep. Though the boy does not understand the meaning of his dream, an unexpected meet with an old man claiming to be “King of Salam” drived him to begin a challenging journey to Egypt in search of his “Personal Legend” – the desirable treasure in his dream. From the homeland of Andalusia, the boy travels through North Africa, where he is robbed, where he loses everything, where the fateful encounter with the crystal merchant transpires and he is saved from poverty. But to reach the pyramids, he has to move on and a desert is waiting ahead. It is in this desert, that he meets Fatima, his love, and the alchemist who shows him the Soul of the World, teaches him the importance of following his heart and pursuing his Personal Legend. Through hardships and challenges, Santiago finally fulfills his dream and destiny, finds his treasure and comes back to live with Fatima.

The main attraction of the novel is not the captivating journey of Santiago on his way to attain his precious treasure, but in the insightful and thought-provoking lessons Paulo Coelho teaches us along the way with his simple, and yet powerful writing style. I love how Coelho masterfully weaves his messages into The Alchemist. Not the best writing piece, not a heartfelt teenage love story, not a full-of-plot-twists novel, The Alchemist still has its unique power to capture even the most critical mind with its easy-to-read but comforting narrative. I bought the book to find danger and excitement and I got a precious moment of silence to think deeply. The Alchemist, I believe, is the best book for a soul in need of some thoughtful silence in this chaotic and confusing world.


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