All about your omen: a review of The Alchemist


picture from The Behance

“Alchemy? I have never heard about that, I don’t care. Is it chemistry? Whatever. ”

This is what most people think when they hear about the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo, a Brazilian author.  However, the reality is the complete opposite. There is no chemistry or other sciences in the book, but you find a path to your dreams and the realization of them.

A picture of the author of the book (source: the Daily News)

Paulo Coehlo is a Brazilian writer who is known for publishing around 28 books, nevertheless, his life was very complicated.

Before becoming one of the most influential authors in the world, he was sent into a mental institution (he escaped three times), dropped out of a law school, lived as a hippie for some time, and was even using drugs. His life was changed after he realized that he wants to pursue a career as a writer, and he interpreted the one’s journey to his destiny in The Alchemist.

This book took him only a couple of weeks to write, because as Coehlo said, “The book was already written in my soul.” Today, after all the fame, his net worth is roughly $500 million.

Originally, “The Alchemist” was published in Portuguese, but it was translated into 80 languages; and in 1993, the English version was introduced as well by Harper Torch.

The entire story begins in Spain, where one little boy, Santiago, has a dream of finding the treasure of Egypt. When he wakes up, he realizes that it is his destiny to be the first shepherd to cross the desert, find the pyramids of Egypt and become wealthy thanks to the treasure.

On his way, he meets different people and each of them teaches him something different. At first, he sells a couple of his sheep to have a little money for his travels. Unfortunately, he meets a thief and he loses all the money. Then, he meets a Gypsy woman who explains that it is written in the stars that he will find the treasure. That gives him his confidence back and he continues on his path.

“If God leads the sheep so well, he will also lead a man,” The boy often thought about this as he did not have anything, besides the vision of the treasure and his destiny.

A quote on the back of the book

A central character in this book is a king, Melchizedek, as he introduces a different perspective of an “omen” to the boy. It is a phenomenon that is supposed to foretell the future; and in ancient times, it was believed that they are messages from gods and we should always follow them.

The king explains that he has known the boy for a long time, as he is ubiquitous; and he gives the young shepherd a gift – two stones. Whenever the boy won’t know what to do or how to pursue his destiny, he should ask a question and throw stones. The black stone represents the answer “yes”, and the white is a “no”. This way, Santiago will be led straight to his treasure.

At the end of the book, the boy meets an alchemist. It is a man who knows all the tricks and magic, and he teaches the boy to listen to his heart and communicate with the nature around him.

Santiago makes it to Egypt, but there, he realizes the truth and finds out that he had his treasure near him all this time.

And so, the book leaves us with the saying, “Whoever you are or whatever it is that you do when you want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

This masterpiece can influence any age category, but you should definitely read it when you come to a point in your life when you do not know what to do next or a difficult decision needs to be made.