Book Summary Review · Life & Stories

The Alchemist

The story begins when Santiago is but a young boy tending after sheep in the countryside with the sheep and books as his company. He thought his life boring that his schedule and that of the sheep were synchronized such as wake-sleep patterns, often speaking to them to ease his loneliness and share the best parts in the books he read believing they could somehow hear him. All this changed when he meets a beautiful Andalusian girl, daughter to a merchant and they connected after a deep conversation with her. Now she was all that occupied his mind mostly. 

He had studied Latin, Spanish, and theology in a seminary until age 16, and being a priest would have brought so much peace to their simple farm family in Spain. But in his heart, dreams of traveling weighed heavy. At the time, only being a shepherd could allow for his travel and with the father’s blessings, he did become. With not much in his possession but a book, a jacket, and his flock, he was content for he was living his dream and finally realizing that it’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. Having had the same nagging dream twice, he decides to go through Tarifa and visit an old gypsy woman to interpret his dreams. Weary of gypsies since he grew knowing them to be tricksters, he was a bit scared but always willing to take chances. To the boy’s surprise, the gypsy said she wouldn’t charge him any money for the interpretation but had the boy swear to give her one-tenth of his treasure after he interprets his dream. Happy the boy complied thinking he’d saved himself some money. Later, the boy thought the dream too simple to seek counsel but the old woman reminds him that It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men can understand them. 

The old King

Image source

Stumbling across a stranger on the bench, the boy has another interesting experience that will steer him towards his destiny. He tells him of the world’s biggest lie, that at some point in our lives we lose control and are driven by fate. Of his identity as King of Salem who turns out to be gifted and the boy embarrassed for his previous misjudgment of the old man. He also learns of desire, that they come from the soul of the universe and our mission on earthAnd when we want something, all universe conspires to help us. All things are one. We learn so early in our lives the reason for being and most likely why we give it up so fast. Everything in life has its price. The old man tells the boy that he often appears to steer people with a burning desire in the right direction before they give up and demanded a tenth of the shepherds’ flock in exchange for the location of the hidden treasure for the boy. This brought the boy much confusion not knowing how he would detach himself from what was already so dear to him; his flock, home, trade, and the Andalusian girl. But he thought in a gest to convince himself that the beauty of life is best enjoyed by those who welcome adventure and view each day as a different gift from yesterday not conforming to routines making all days the same as the last. When we become too accustomed to norms, we stop perceiving the world around us and the magic in it. It works for he sells all his sheep and takes one-tenth to the old man the next day, he further learns of beginners’ luck and that omens guide us home. He gets the location of the treasure as the old man points him to the pyramids in Egypt with some advice and explains he charged him because he helped him make the decision. 


Image source

The boy arrives in Africa and is shocked at the cultural difference, he realizes that in that country, mostly Arabic is spoken but realized later that there are many Spaniards too. From his experiences in Andalusia tending his sheep had given him good navigation and survival skills but still naïve. Meeting a stranger and entrusting him all his money in the promise of guidance to the pyramids. Watching the sunset in the evening he recalls how in the morning he had everything he wanted in his country now without any money and lost in a foreign land in the same day. Nothing but his big book and the two stones gifted by the old man as omens to guide him; Urim and Thummim. Guide him they did, he felt closer to the old man with every touch and with his spirit lifted, he decides to change his mindset from victim to adventurer. He starts surviving and learns a few things. Like there exists a language without words common to everyone and everything. That of enthusiasm and things accomplished with love. Meeting the crystal merchant at the top of the hill, the boy gets a chance to earn although little, he learns of how far the pyramids are and the gruesome dessert and this crushes his heart but still sticking to the old man’s advice, he utilizes the principle of favorability and takes advantage of good beginners’ luck by helping it as much as It is helping them make more sales so should they take more risks with the merchant. The boy pushes the merchant and directs him towards change, the merchant reluctantly agrees, commenting there’s no way to hold back a river and agreeing to change as the only constant.

11 months later the boy had saved enough money to buy 120 sheep, double what he had a year ago, his return ticket, and a license to import goods from Africa. As he packs before he leaves, the two stones fall from his shepherds’ pouch and he remembers the old king. He remembered the advice to follow the omens and that the universe conspires to help us achieve our desires. Feeling the old King all around, he leaves the merchant shop feeling confident for his newfound wealth and as if he can conquer the world. 

The Englishman

Somehow, the boy manages to convince himself of following his dream to the pyramids. And realized that he is his treasure. He can always be a sheepherder or a crystal merchant. Shortly bumping into an Englishman whose dream was to find an old Arabian man said to posse’s alchemy gifts, wisdom and over 200 years old. Living in Al-Fayoum oasis and able to turn anything into gold. The weight of the boys’ decisions was heavy. He learns that a decision is like diving into a strong current that carries one to places you’ve never been when the decision was made at first. They find out that they have so much in common from understanding the king, omens, and destiny and on the same journey across the desert. 

“The closer one gets to realizing his destiny, the more that destiny becomes his true reason for being”

The desert

Image source

The elemental force of the dessert commanded silence as the caravan cut across the desert, just as the wide sea does. Only the animals’ footsteps and the desserts’ eternal wind could be heard among the faint murmurs of the guides. The boy now understanding that intuition is a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life. Where all is one and Akashic records reside. With his hunches guiding him. 

people need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want.

“We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

The travel across the desert had its challenges, with colder nights and threats from bandits. But the boy and the Englishman began to bond. The boy learns why things worked out at the crystal shop. “In alchemy, it’s called the Soul of the World. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force.”

He also said that this was not just a human giftthat everything on the face of the earth had a soul, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal—or even just a simple thought.

“Everything on earth is being continuously transformed because the earth is alive… and it has a soulWe are part of that soul, so we rarely recognize that it is working for us. That’s why the glasses in the crystal shop were collaborating in the boy’s success. This same soul is what permits their crossing of the desert, the soul of the caravan and that of the dessert are communing. The desert has already tested the caravan and only allows its crossing if it is ready and it is time. This. aided by the guide’s ability to read omens. The same principles apply to us in life. Life will test us at every corner and if we are not aligned to our desires, there is always friction.

The boy further learns that alchemy was all about discovering the hidden language. That when a metal is heated for so many years, what remains is its soul, existing in two states at the same time. The liquid part. the elixir of life and solid the philosopher’s stone. With the philosopher’s stone fascinating properties and ability to transform large quantities of metals into gold. After all the exchange between the boy and the Englishman, they soon realize that everyone has their different way of understanding things. The Englishman thrived in the complexities of books of alchemy and laboratories, and the boy the simplicity of life through observation and experiences.

“If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be happy because life is the moment we’re living right now.” 

Al-Fayoum the Oasis

image source

On reaching the oasis, the boy is amazed by its vastness, it was not what he pictured as explained in the books. There were three hundred wells, fifty thousand date trees, and innumerable colored tents spread among them. Everyone was happy, from the oasis dwellers to the travelers and guides. 

The book teaches that the closer we get to our dreams, the tougher it becomes. We become subject to persistence and courage putting aside haste and impatience. Controlling our impulses to see the signs and signs left by God along the journey. Beginners’ luck doesn’t work at this stage. Initially, the boy thought of signs as things of this world but later understands they are the language of God to us. 

The boy and the Englishman sought to find the Alchemist in the oasis. They searched widely among the tents and wells. They almost gave up until they heard of the great one and as they continue the search, a strange thing happened. The boy found the purest language of the universe. That which all things speak but many forgot. The knowing that everything under the sun is written by one hand, that twin souls exist and when their eyes meet, the past and future matter no more but the present moment. It is the language of love. As the boy looks into the eyes of the woman who comes to the well to fetch water, he is moved by this language in certainty. 


Image source

Over time the boy and the girl of her dreams Fatima whom he met at the oasis formed a bond. They shared their dreams and past. They’ve both been waiting for each other and felt courageous with each other. The wind once carried her scent to him in Andalusia. The war extends their stay at the oasis and Fatima urges the boy to continue his search for his treasure and assures him just as the winds of the desert change the dunes, the desert remains the same and never changes so will their love. The English man finds the alchemist and with a few words tells him to go and try to change lead to gold. With determination, he goes out and builds a furnace realizing his fear of failure is what held him back. 

The boy leaves the oasis in search of his treasure with a heavy heart and learns that many men never return from the desert for it claims them but not to worry for they become a part of the soul of the desert. Some become the clouds, others the desert water and animals. They become a part of the soul of the world. The boy became more familiar with the language of the world and learned that we can understand our history, current experience, and future by observing our present moment. This way, we penetrate the soul of the world. Seers could do this with ease but it’s a gift anyone can tap into.The secret of life is in the present moment.And each day in itself brings about an eternity.  

A stranger in a strange world

The boy becomes so good at observing the world around him that ends up in the chieftains’ tent to interpret an omen he saw and warning the oasis of an impending attack. They wonder why the dessert would communicate with a stranger but still hid the boys warning quoting Joseph from the Bible and how he once saved Egypt from drought and bringing abundance yet a stranger and sold as a slave A tough bet is placed though by the chief that men will be armed in case of an attack but if there is no attack by sundown next day, it’ll cost the boy his life. Heeding the camel driver’s words that every day is meant to be lived fully or depart if the future is not to be changed, he felt no fear or regret. The boy is further tested on his courage since courage is the most important quality in understanding the language of the world.

The war 

The alchemist encounter was terrifying to the boy. His presence was commanding. He sought the boy and after the war which lasted 30 mins thanks to the boys’ warning and the oasis arming 2,000 men over 500 enemies. The boy earned his 50 gold coins and went south to seek the Alchemist. With 2 dead hawks for dinner, they connect easily for they both see through the soul of the world. The Alchemist points the boy to his treasure in the pyramids across a desert raging with war and the boy wonders what more treasure could he want for he still possesses the money from the crystal shop, 50 gold pieces, and Fatima’s love. 

The alchemist 

The boy is finally convinced to leave in search of the treasure. With a heavy heart for leaving Fatima behind, he finds counsel from the alchemist telling him true love waits and endures while its opposite fades. He further educates the boy on destinies telling him if we do not live our destinies, we live unfulfilled lives. The boy learns of the emerald tablet, the ancient wisdom of direct passage to the soul of the world, and the secrets of this reality as a guide to the inexhaustible creation of God. 

To learn to listen to our hearts for it comes from the soul of the world and wherever our heart is, that is where our treasure lies and we all have treasures but many fear to seek it. when We view the world as hostile and so it becomes, but when we change the way we look at things the things we look at will also change. And that the world will always test us to see if we have mastered the lessons along the way, this is where most people give up. In the search for our destinies, “Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.” 

The boy also learns that life’s simple truths are the hardest to grasp. The alchemist tells the boy that the heart helps us along our journey of life. It helps those pursuing their desires along with children, drunkards, and the elderly to a certain extent. He summarizes the meaning of alchemy as being about penetrating the soul of the world and discovering the treasure that has been reserved for each of us. 


The book summarizes the teachings of life as the boy continues to learn from the alchemist. He is educated on souls and that fear of failure blocks us from our hearts and keeps us away from achieving our dreams. “That the world is only the visible aspect of God. And that what alchemy does is to bring spiritual perfection into contact with the material plane.”

In a sense, the book tries to illustrate how the world works. Of the connection between everything and their interdependence. With food chains and everything that comes from the soil and to it, it returns. The book further describes love to be powerful with endless creative possibilities and everything that happens within us. In a conversation between the boy and the elements around him in a bid to save his and the alchemist life from the tribesmen, he further sees that only God could perform miracles and that the soul of the world is the soul of God and the soul of God is the soul of man. Everything is one, beautifully crafted by the hand of God. Every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally we don’t know it.” In a weird twist, the boy reaches the pyramid but finds no treasure, instead, he is directed back to his home in Andalusia in an old church where he once slept beneath the sycamore tree that grew in it. beneath its roots lay his treasure and after retrieving it, he remembers the gypsy woman and one-tenth of her claim, the old king, Urim, and Thummim, and most importantly, the levanter wind blew carrying the scent of Fatima to Santiago’s face.

Image source

35 thoughts on “The Alchemist

      1. Paulo, the author was inspired to write the book on a pilgrimage he made called “El Camino De Santiago”, a pilgrimage walk in the North of Spain, have you heard of it?

      2. Interesting,, no, I hadn’t heard of it. Just checked it out. I think his book the pilgrimage was also inspired by the pilgrimage?

  1. Outstanding highlight reel of the book Kevin. Thoughtful❣️

    I cannot imagine your readers not rushing out to make it their next read 💥🤔

    It’s one of my favorites❣️🤗

  2. I have read this book about 2 years ago and I got inspired by the story of the shepherd boy and his struggle and journey to the destination. In between story, success, failures… all are lessons. Pauli Coelho is famous writer. I have read another book ” Brida”. That was also very good. All these were about more than 2 years back. I will write my journey through books. Amazing is that journey. Some books are like medicines. Like life saving drugs. I saved my life after reading books. God wanted that. god saved me. He showed me the path through books. I am always thankful to GOD.
    Your post will give direction to the readers. Through your post people will know the secret of life.
    Thank you. Best Regards
    Truly Yours

    1. It is a very good book with many life secrets hidden within the text. I’m fascinated by your remark on books saving your life. We share the same experience. My life turned around for the better through books, pulling me from a very dark spiral of confusion, loss and pain. I had read a few books prior to this one book: the monk who sold his Ferrari and something ticked and sent me into a journey of learning, self discovery and growth. Now a few years later and many books read I decided just recently to start doing reviews of the many books that I read so as to allow myself to review the notes and share with others to enjoy the same.

      Thank you my friend.

      1. Same for me.
        I got the book”monk who sold his Ferrari” when I was shattered. That book was second book for me in this journey. First I got” who will cry when you die”
        For certain reason I was so upset that I can not express here.
        Third book was ” The power of your subconscious mind”
        Fourth book was “Biology of Belief” and so on so on ….
        This journey is now amazing 😀
        Very happy with my inner voice.
        Thank you so much my dear friend and my co-walker in this eternal journey.
        Regards 🙏🙏

      2. I haven’t read who will cry when I die. I’ll look for it, the title is interesting. I’ve read the other two. I understand. It’s just amazing how much power books have. They can change someone’s reality with every flick of the page, allow one to travel back in time and tap into the minds of many great people who achieved awareness and decided to put their life lessons in books. Books have power, understanding the concepts and application of the same is the trick.

        Thank you to my friend. Yes, the journey lightens up 🙂 especially when one takes control of the inner voice directing it to positivity and blessings.

      3. Thank you so much for your reply which motivated me, gives me more confidence, that in my journey there are friends with me. Destination is same 🙏

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s