Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho



After its first publication in 1988, Paulo Coelho's O Alquimista ( The Alchemist) fell short of book sales. Determined to tell the story of a shepherd who was on his way to the pyramids of Egypt in search of a treasure, Coelho found another publisher to give the book another chance. An American tourist visited Brazil eight months later and got a copy of the book. He was interested in translating it to English and having it published in the United States of America. Eventually, HarperCollins issued The Alchemist in 1993. The sale was slow at the start but it gained momentum after famous people such as Madonna, Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, and Will Smith read it. Since then, The Alchemist has sold millions of copies worldwide, became one of the most translated books, and stayed over 300 weeks in The New York Times Best Sellers.


An Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago is driven by his dream to set off on a journey with one goal in mind, to find the treasure near the Pyramids of Egypt.

Along the way, he met people from different walks of life that influenced his decisions on how to move forward with his journey. After the arduous odyssey, he found that the treasure he was seeking in the beginning was not what he imagined to be in the end.

The Alchemist shows the power of dreams and listening to our hearts.


  1. What was the typical day of the shepherd?
  2. How did the man become a shepherd? Why did he choose to be one?
  3. If you were his father, how would you feel about the path he chose which was different from what you expected of him?
  4. According to the book, what makes life interesting? Do you agree with this?
  5. Describe the shepherd's encounter with the Gypsy dream interpreter.
  6. An old man claiming to be a king offered the shepherd the location of s treasure in exchange for one-tenth of the latter's sheep. If you were the shepherd, what would you do?
  7. What is a personal legend? How does this apply to your life?
  8. What is your favorite quote in the book? Why?
  9. At one point, the shepherd lost everything. What do you think about his statement that God was unfair?
  10. What brought back the shepherd's inspiration and motivation to continue his journey?
  11. What is the Alchemist's Personal Legend? How did this influence the shepherd's perspective in life?
  12. What is love without ownership for you?
  13. What is one thing that stops us from achieving our dreams?
  14. What is your favorite moment in the book? Describe it.
  15. Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?

“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is." - Old Man

“I’m like everyone else—I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.” - The Shepherd

It’s true; life really is generous to those who pursue their Personal Legend, the boy thought.

  • Reading The Alchemist is like gliding through the cadence of Paulo Coelho's prose. His style of writing is admirable.
  • It speaks to my soul. There is something within me that recognizes the meaning of the symbols in the story that points to an important realization-- living life to the fullest is a signpost of a happy life.
  • The hero's journey is relatable when it comes to finding life's purpose. At first, there were curiosity and exhilaration, then risk, loss, and frustration, and eventually, redemption, discovery, and success.
  • I appreciate the character opposite to the shepherd, the crystal merchant who had dreams but chose to continue dreaming. He just wanted to stay wherever he was.
  • The part when the shepherd tried to prove that he could be one with the wind was my favorite moment. It was a big risk. What if the wind didn't cooperate? Death was a sure consequence.

  • The simplicity of the characters and their backgrounds gives the story a fable or a fairy tale vibe but they give the main theme of finding your personal legend a spotlight.


Paulo Coelho expresses his soul through his book, The Alchemist, which shows the challenges of finding one's Personal Legend through the story of the shepherd boy in Andalusian. It unfurls a blueprint for finding one's existential meaning. 

Meeting different people along the way is one of the highlights of the shepherd's journey. It all started with a dream that repeatedly appeared in the shepherd's sleep. He met a Gypsy woman who told her to find the treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. He then met different kinds of people, the old man who claimed to be a king, the crystal merchant, tribal warriors, the Englishman, the Alchemist, and the monks. 

The book is only short, about 178 pages in an ebook format, which delineates the simple story that is remindful of a fable wherein the characters are not fully fleshed-out. Despite this, true to its allegorical nature, The Alchemist didn't fail to deliver its message: if we are determined to find our personal legend, the universe will conspire. 

Readers who like simple fantasy and adventure stories with a spiritual overtone will enjoy this. 


Book Information:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Published on February 24, 2015, by HarperOne; 25th ed. edition
178 pages (eBook)

Find it here: