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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and very well-written!
Having felt a little lost and somewhat gloomy recently I came across an inspirational and thought-provoking book called The Shamanic Prophecy: The past will set you free. I had heard that The Alchemist was another book with a powerful message to convey, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Although, I don't think that any book has the power to transform your life, I found...
Published 2 months ago by Manchester

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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All is not gold that glitters
First of all: I don't want to offend any of the people who have found a positive message in The Alchemist - just provide a perhaps slightly less enthusiastic comment for those who haven't yet read the book.
Initially, I was charmed by the fairy-tale style of this book - but the more I read on, the less I liked it. A simplistic style can work really well to convey...
Published on 24 Jun 2004 by Is


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and very well-written!, 19 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Alchemist - 10th Anniversary Edition (Kindle Edition)
Having felt a little lost and somewhat gloomy recently I came across an inspirational and thought-provoking book called The Shamanic Prophecy: The past will set you free. I had heard that The Alchemist was another book with a powerful message to convey, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Although, I don't think that any book has the power to transform your life, I found the message to be comforting and life-affirming, just when I felt in the need for a `pick-me-up'!
Small, but powerful, The Alchemist is a great tonic for those days when life just becomes too much and when all you want to do is pull up the drawbridge and shut out the world
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read., 7 May 2012
I didn't expect this book to change my life but I really enjoyed sharing Santiago's journey.
If you like a magical read then this is one for you.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Alchemist Paulo Coelho, 27 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Alchemist - 10th Anniversary Edition (Kindle Edition)
At a time in my life where I have had so many life changing things happen, not all my choice, I had naturally felt low and out of spirits and hope, and an endless fear of not knowing what to expect with my future, The Alchemist has given me hope once again to not be afraid and to believe in the power of dreams. I found this to be exactly what I needed, at a time I needed it the most.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what a book!, 22 Nov 2012
By 
J. Wray "Noonie" (ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I loved this book read it in one go even took it to bed on the afternoon to complete it...buy it now for snowy afternoons coming ready...I loved it I usually read the end of a book naughty yes but I do it...glad I didn't in this case so be warned anyone who does this don't spoil the story...enjoy!
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73 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please read this book., 18 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This book is a simple gift from the heavens, like so many other things in our world which go un-noticed. Read it in a day, or draw the pleasure out over three and have your life changed irrevocably without even trying. I read this book four years ago the first time, and finished it yesterday the second time. On both occasions, I was inspired into letting myself dream, and more so, to not be afraid to demand that these dreams be realised. Since then, somehow, I've come full circle around the world and into the arms of amazing friends and miraculous opportunities for growth. This book mightn't teach you anything you don't already know, but it's story will inspire you, and remind you of the moments when you feel love within your body, stronger than any other earthly bond known to humankind. That kind of love is what this book is about: it seeks to help us live it for ourselves.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All is not gold that glitters, 24 Jun 2004
By 
First of all: I don't want to offend any of the people who have found a positive message in The Alchemist - just provide a perhaps slightly less enthusiastic comment for those who haven't yet read the book.
Initially, I was charmed by the fairy-tale style of this book - but the more I read on, the less I liked it. A simplistic style can work really well to convey wisdom - just look at "The Little Prince" by St Exupery - but then the philosophy backing the style up needs to be spot-on. I don't know why, but for me Coelho's message echoed a little bit too much of a self-help book. It was a little bit too smug, I suppose.
This book definitely has to be read as an "ideas book" rather than a "character book". None of the characters are real, complex, multi-faceted human beings, and I don't think the author intended them to be. Rather, they serve as symbols to explain the author's world-view, a little bit like "Candide" by Voltaire. The main character, the treasure-hunting shepherd, symbolises the quest for meaning in life, and the voyage we are all on. His beloved Fatima, on the other hand, shows how our quest can be tangled up in another human being, rather than any of our own achievements. (Is it a coincidence that the female character is fulfilled through her feelings for a man, whereas the male character shapes his own destiny? I don't think it is, and I have to admit that riled me a little bit.)
Coelho is taking on a huge task, trying to present us with a philosophy in a fairy-tale, and it's perhaps unfair to criticise him when he fails. I don't regret reading this book, but I can't say it captures the mad, whirling, ambiguous world as well as many other novels I have read (Elliot's "Middlemarch" or Philip Pullman's "Northern Light spring to mind). It reminds me of "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull" (hmm, or whatever it was called) or "Tao for Pooh" or any other whimisical but ultimately forgettable feel-good philosophy book. It's not true, solid gold this book leaves us with, but a sort of glittering imitation.
But hey, you're going to have a better time reading it than you'll have studying Hegel...
So give it a shot, and then come back and tell me that I'm a miserable old cynic!!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book, 30 Dec 2005
By A Customer
I think there is one reason why this book has failed to live up to certain people's expectations. If you get too caught up with the hype about something, you higher your expectations to a ridiculous level and as a result you fail to enjoy it. The Alchemist is a beautiful book because it has a simple moral, and if everyone read it at face value and appreciated what it says, you might find yourselves becoming better people as a result. I know so many people who have read and loved this book and for each person, it meant something different.
Coehlo does not write his books for a good yarn, they are not about gripping, action-packed storylines with little meaning. For that, read Dan Brown. But the messages in his books are why they are so well-loved.
This was not my personal favourite. Veronika Decides To Die was more thought-provoking, and By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept was written for me. But my message to everyone is, forget what you have heard. Read the book and make up your own mind, instead of drawing on what everyone else says about it.
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203 of 243 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Fable For The Weak, 10 Jan 2008
By 
Every so often a book comes along that is championed by millions who read it as profound, life changing and inspirational. For the current generation that book appears to be The Alchemist. 'A Simple fable about the importance of following your dreams'. Who could fail to find something worthwhile in such a blend of magical realism, spirituality and beauty? Well, me for one.

Put simply this is one of the most abject books I have ever read. Anyone who takes a positive, life affirming message from Coelho's prose has completely misunderstood the message it unintentionally broadcasts. Despite what the author and Richard and Judy would have you believe, what The Alchemist does espouse is a barely updated version of Leibnitzian Optimism which occasionally blunders over the line into full blown Fatalism. The very same philosophical position in fact that was so mercilessly torn apart and held up to the light of reason and absurdity by Voltaire over 200 years ago. Rather than a positive message, the book is overwhelmingly negative for anyone who believes in free will or our own ability to make our own choices. As Voltaire realised, the problem with Optimism/Fatalism (above and beyond its complete refusal to accept that bad things happen unless it was for 'a higher reason' or 'the greater good' or 'part of God's plan) is that when you work it all the way through to its logical conclusion you are forced to accept that free will can not exist and that we are all merely pawns in a larger game over which we have no control. How people manage to extract a positive message from being told that happiness is to be found in blindly following a destiny that is laid out before you is utterly beyond me. The one and only character in the book worthy of any sympathy or empathy is the owner of the crystal shop who, although he never gets the chance to realise his own destiny at least fails to do so because he has not accepted his destiny, has not followed the path set out for him. He may not obtain the happiness of the protaganist, but at least he can emerge from the book with his head held high and say 'I did it my way'. The further I continued into this book the angrier and angrier I found myself getting. Coelho and his marketing machine have conned the world into believing he has written an uplifting inspiring masterpiece which (just like its protagonist) seemingly cherishes material gain and publicity over whatever message he is supposed to be delivering. The reality is that he has created a world devoid of hope for the independence of thought and development of humanity. Yes, the prose retains a certain childlike innocence and beauty, certain sentences flow easily off the tongue and his use of language, while simple is evocative, descriptive and emotive. This does nothing however to hide the overwhelming pessimism and lack of freedom espoused within.

As has been said a hundred times before; philosophy-lite (and even that is being very generous), trite and completely unworthy of the praise lavished upon it. This book is a hotch potch mess of cliches about how 'life will work out in the end' and you'll get rich (which is apparently even better than and should be prioritised over falling in love and learning to communicate with the elements and nature itself.) Rarely do I find myself actually becoming angry at a book or author, but this is cynicism and milking of a cash cow in the extreme, packaged up as a book that will help humanity. I found the whole thing shallow and sickening.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring read but not completely blown away!, 27 April 2011
I bought this book after someone compared its fable style to the wonderful Serendipity's Secret: A novel way to achieve your dreams and find the path to happiness, a book I absolutely loved. Both books tell the story of a journey of self-discovery where the message is all about going after your dreams, listening to your heart and not giving in to your fears. However, whereas 'Serendipity's Secret' is full of practical suggestions about how you can achieve this, the Alchemist left me with a sense of 'So, now what?' at the end of it. Yes, it is certainly an inpiring read and I did enjoy it. However I found it got slightly 'wierd' towards the end, especially when Santiago starts talking to the wind and sand etc. I also couldn't really bond with, care about or root for Santiago in the same way I could for Serendipity, the heroine in 'Serendipity's Secret'. I suppose I like my books to not only inspire but aso give me practical solutions to improve my life so maybe this book was never going to blow me away. I think it's great that so many people love it and I really wish I was one of them. I would, however, recommend it to anyone who needs some inspiration in their life and believe most will feel better for reading it.
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106 of 127 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vacuous, confused, utter nonsense!, 2 Oct 2009
I purchased 'The Alchemist' thinking that it was an actual novel which just happened to be inspiring to many people. If I had known that it was a self-proclaimed 'fable' with a big message about spirituality and the meaning of life then I would have avoided it with every fibre of my being. I do not subscribe to things that inform you that they are going to tell you something to make your life better or make you understand a deeper part of yourself. The fact that the back cover tells you your life will be changed usually leads the more impressionable of us to believe this HAS happened, regardless of what the book has actually said. And, being an avid reader of REAL philosophy, obviously new-age hippy nonsense is bound to get on my nerves. For these reasons of bias, I was not at first planning on submitting a review of this book, but it annoyed me so much that I felt I had to vent my frustrations!

The plot is straightforward - Santiago is a shepherd who feels there is more to life and gets encouraged by many people, messages and omens to follow his destiny. The writing is basic at best, with repetitive dialogue tags and no sense of depth. This simplistic style is obviously purposeful to allow the writer to hammer home his 'message' again and again and again. The translation is no excuse for the writing; anyone who thinks so needs to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez and consider the beauty and intricacy of his translated prose.

What that message is, however, becomes the real issue of the book - that if you really want something, the universe will conspire to give it to you. Oh PLEASE. It immediately made me wonder who on earth would accept that as some sort of doctrine? This has been called a naive approach, but I also think it is a very dangerous thing to believe, that we all should have whatever we want purely because WE WANT IT. No wonder the world gets more and more self-righteous and selfish. It is exactly this type of thinking that drives us apart as a world as we all chase our 'destiny' and fortune. No-one remembers that if we are all 'special', then nobody is.

The author fills Santiago's journey with made up phrases which become inexplicable lynchpins that are conveniently never explained i.e 'the Soul of the World', 'the Language of the World' 'the Language of the Desert' so on and so forth. These are so generic as to be meaningless and the reader is expected to accept these elements as something deep and powerful and really important. They aren't, they are just words thrown together to sound oh-so-philosophical (and again I fail to see how anyone is fooled by it). The story is also so dependent on omens and superstition that it sets rational thought back about 3000 years.

The worst mistake in the book involves its overarching beliefs. Santiago feels proud because he is taking his life into his hands and following his destiny no matter what, yet the universe is 'conspiring' to give him what he wants. There is a real confusion between the major philospohical idea of Free Will versus Fate here. Is the shepherd great because he has chosen to follow his destiny? Or has the universe / God / the Soul of the World made him do it? You cannot be following your own destiny if everything is Fate! It is simply taking you to one place then another! The book refused to decide whether Santiago was brilliant for following his dreams, or whether he was being carried along with something that had already been decided. This is the book's fatal flaw and proves how unclear the 'message' actually is!

I agree with earlier reviews that this book is for well-heeled spoilt Westerners who do not have huge problems (such as starvation, homelessness, mass illness, war) and think that the 'universe' owes them something. I can absolutely see why this book has appealed such a great deal to celebrities, who probably make outrageous demands and tell themselves it is because the universe is 'conspiring' to give them what they want. This book appeals to a vanity in these people that regard spirituality and a philosophical viewpoint as a fashionable commodity - something that can be bought rather than learned. It also allows us to abandon all responsibility for our actions as long as we are hell bent on following our 'destiny'. Proceed with caution.
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