REVIEW: ‘The Alchemist’: A thrilling adventure full of wisdom

Austin Messick

Through an inspiring tale of adventure, a reader sees that following your dreams is not just the stuff of childhood fantasy. Allow your heart to be your compass and you can accomplish anything.

No dream is too big, no desert too expansive to cross, and no love is out of reach if you follow your heart. These are only a few examples of the multitude of wisdom that is contained in Paul Coelho’s exciting novel “The Alchemist.”

Within it lies an adventure that will arouse the soul and bring hope to those who think their dreams are beyond their limits. Santiago is a young shepherd boy who travels through the countryside in Andalusia, Spain, enjoying the many sights for him to behold.

One night while sleeping in an abandoned church, he dreams of a child who transports him to the Egyptian pyramids to tell him, “If you come here, you will find a hidden treasure.” Just before the child is about to show him where the treasure is buried, Santiago awakens and is left with feelings of both confusion and excitement.

He consults a gypsy woman to interpret his dream in Tarifa, who urges him to begin an adventure to Egypt because this was a “dream in the language of the world.” The “language of the world” is a dialect shared by all living beings and elements which requires no words.

Later in the town plaza he meets a man claiming to be the King of Salem. The king explains to Santiago that his dream revealed to him his “personal legend,” which is “what you have always wanted to accomplish.”

He also learns of the “soul of the world,” which is the entity that connects all things on this planet. In pursuit of his dream, he travels to Tangiers, Africa, and immediately has his resolve tested. He is robbed of all his money and is left alone in the streets of a strange land.

Hoping to replenish his funds and earn a bit of food, he walks into a crystal merchant’s shop and begins cleaning. This earns him a job, which he excels at for almost a year, earning him enough money to travel back to Andalusia.

He is about to give up on his dream when his heart convinces him to continue his adventure. At his heart’s request, he joins a caravan that leads him through the treacherous African desert.

While with the caravan, he learns of the mysterious practice of alchemy from an aspiring English alchemist. The Englishman is traveling through Africa hoping he can meet a true alchemist who resides at an Oasis somewhere on the caravan’s route.

At the Oasis he experiences love at first sight, with a woman of unexplainable beauty, and his heart is filled with it, bringing new energy to his being. Realizing that love is the most important part of the “language of the world” he knows better how to speak to his heart and the hearts of those around him.

After meeting the true alchemist he is taught that alchemy is about learning to “penetrate to the soul of the world.” He must find his way into the “soul of the world” if his dream of treasure is to be realized.

From this point on the reader is engaged in an exciting conclusion to an already compelling novel. Love becomes the fuel that replenishes his strength when all hope seems to be lost.

Be ready for an emotional roller-coaster ride, filled with corkscrews and back flips that will keep your adrenaline high and your eyes fixed on the pages.

Coelho presents wisdom that can bring hope to the weary soul when enduring troubled times. This story shows readers that if you remain strong through adversity and listen to your heart, your dreams are never out of reach, no matter how grandiose they may be.