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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savoured by most, savaged by others
Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling great distances in search of a worldly treasure as fabulous as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers, and from there into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him.

Well the story isn't exactly life-changing but it could be...
Published on 17 Jun. 2005 by OEJ

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spirituality with a money fixation
This book reads like an instruction manual for spiritual fulfilment dressed up as a novel. Certainly we are in no doubt of the message the author intends to convey, for he tells us. Repeatedly and explicitly. If you like reading such things as "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it", then you will probably enjoy this book...
Published 22 months ago by Remus


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savoured by most, savaged by others, 17 Jun. 2005
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling great distances in search of a worldly treasure as fabulous as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers, and from there into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him.

Well the story isn't exactly life-changing but it could be described as a kind of contemporary fantasy, with mystical yet convincing characters, and the message I took from it is that we should all have aspirations and we should, in turn, make sacrifices to make those dreams come true. Things won't turn out as we expect, life isn't that simple, but we won't have lost for trying. I too had high expectations of this book (I was already a PC fan) and I wasn't disappointed. This guy can really tell a story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spirituality with a money fixation, 2 Jun. 2013
By 
Remus (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alchemist (Mass Market Paperback)
This book reads like an instruction manual for spiritual fulfilment dressed up as a novel. Certainly we are in no doubt of the message the author intends to convey, for he tells us. Repeatedly and explicitly. If you like reading such things as "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it", then you will probably enjoy this book.

However perhaps Coelho is really trying to get across something quite different, something that he does not put into the lips of every character guide in the book: that we should aspire to wealth. The boy's destiny is to seek out a treasure, and it is rather a disappointment at the end to find out [SPOILER ALERT - but not a very big one] that the treasure really is just that: buried treasure. He worries about buying and selling sheep, whether the deals he makes with characters he meets are financially sound and when [another minor SPOILER ALERT] he has all his money stolen he does not then continue in a life of barter and exchange - no Kim, he - but immediately sets to work, literally, for a wage.

This is a simple tale and easy to read, and it does have some pleasant touches. Coelho writes quite a bit about religious acceptance between Christians and Muslims, appearing to put forward the idea of Ahl al-Kitab (the People of the Book), although he never explicitly says so. I dare say his religious ideas are as flawed as his philosophical ones but he writes in favour of peace and acceptance, and in my view that is a good thing.

If this were any ordinary novel, I would put two stars and advise people to give it a miss. But it has been widely read, and by influential people as well. For that reason, you might like to read it yourself. It won't take long.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure about this book...., 21 Aug. 2010
By 
Martin Belcher (Hampshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alchemist (Paperback)
This is my first foray into Paulo Choelho books and I picked this one as it was recommended as a good starting point.

It was not what I was expecting and having finished it I am a little puzzled....

Going from the reviews and back cover of the book it is supposed to have changed the lives of many people around the world? I might be missing something here, but I don't feel I have gained much from this book at all. I can understand that there are some messages in the book to be gained like following your dreams and learning to listen to your heart but the story is quite simple and a bit boring really and not that extraordinary or revolutionary. Perhaps it is meant to be like this, I don't know. I am sorry if this review puts you off reading it, I am glad I have tried it but it really did not do much for me - sorry!
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24 of 28 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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50 of 59 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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113 of 134 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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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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17 of 20 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comforting and inspirational read, 18 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: The Alchemist - 10th Anniversary Edition (Kindle Edition)
I found this book quite inspirational and it reminded me a little of The Shamanic Prophecy in its style and content. The message I took from this tale was to follow your true destiny and to have hope. We are all on different life journeys and I must say that it wasn't life-changing for me like other people have found it. That being said though I found it a simple and heart-warming tale of the power of dreams. Every one will take a different message from it so just enjoy it and make your own mind up. I wrote this review because I personally feel that a book in itself cannot fundamentally change one's life, but even if you take a small measure of comfort then that's no bad thing is it?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magical and very special., 15 Oct. 2010
I read the Alchemist and for the first time since being a child got lost in this wonderful story.I gave this book to my son whilst he was in a young offenders prison not expecting him to even pick it up( as he was unapproachable and in a very unhappy state of mind at the time).To my amazement he not only read it,he recommended the book to another boy whom he obviously felt needed it.I truly believe it helped him through the worst time of his young life. He said he will always keep it and identifies with the boy in the story, who becomes a man through all his trials and hardships.I believe i was meant to read this book to pass on to my son,thats why i think its special and magical.
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