This book has been on my to-read list for a long while now and I found it truly remarkable. Some books are international gems, breaking the barriers of language. Much is lost in translation I have found, so how much more impact could this book have if one read it in its original tongue?
This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom points Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.
This is one of the harder books to review. It won’t be for everyone but I found it fascinating to follow the boy on his personal journey to find his treasure and eventually, something more important than that. It reads like a folk tale, there are omens and people to help the boy on his way. And like a folk tale, there’s something that readers can come away with. There’s simplicity but raw power hidden in all the pages of this book.
In the beginning you learn of the boy’s name but it’s something that’s easily forgotten as it’s not something that’s used to refer to him. The boy, the Englishman, the camel driver, the alchemist. They all lend to the cleanliness of it. I particularly liked the introduction from the author, set me in the right mindset for this book and the prologue was one of the best parts.
If you want a book that makes you think then this is it. More than once I found myself rereading a line or a paragraph just to feel the power of the words again. Coelho thoroughly soaks this story with a sort of timeless quality that comes with folk stories. There is gold and sheep, there are warring tribes and beautiful women, but more than that, THE ALCHEMIST gives you a mirror to view yourself.