The Alchemist Book Summary, by Paulo Coelho

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1-Page Summary of The Alchemist

Overview

The Alchemist is a story about a shepherd named Santiago who sets out on an adventure to find treasure. He learns along the way that his dreams are not just personal but part of something bigger in the universe. In this novel, Santiago leaves his home with only some wine and bread for sustenance, and he heads off to Africa because he has a recurring dream of finding treasure there.

Upon arriving in Africa, Santiago realizes that it is not as easy to succeed there as he thought. He gets robbed on the first day and left without any money or friends. At first he considers giving up and going back home but remembers what the wise man told him: “A Personal Legend is not meant for one person alone. It is a common ground where people meet and help each other fulfill their own personal legends.” So, Santiago decides to stay and get a job at a crystal shop so that he can earn enough money to buy more sheep for his flock. After working at the crystal shop for over a year, learning much about life in general, Santiago earns enough money to buy another flock of sheep and returns home with great success. However, just before returning home, Santiago changes his mind again (after all this time) and decides to go on an adventure by joining a caravan heading towards Egypt despite having no idea how far away it is from Tangiers or if he’ll ever return alive from such an adventure…

In the desert, Santiago meets an Englishman who is seeking a renowned alchemist. The Englishman tells him about alchemy and how it’s similar to Melchizedek’s teachings about following your heart and doing what you love. Although they’re different in their approach to learning these lessons, both men believe that we are all connected to something larger than ourselves—the Soul of the World. As they travel together through the desert, they begin hearing rumors of a coming tribal war.

When Santiago arrives at the Al-Fayoum oasis, he meets a girl named Fatima with whom he falls in love. He discovers that his soul is the source of love, just as it’s the source of all things. While walking through the desert one day, Santiago has a vision of an upcoming battle and rushes back to warn everyone but no one believes him. When they’re attacked by bandits, Santiago saves them and they offer him a position as their counselor.

The Alchemist and Santiago are on the move again. This time, they’re taken prisoner by a tribe of warring people who want to know if Santiago is really a powerful magician. The Alchemist tells them that he can turn himself into the wind, but there’s only one problem—Santiago doesn’t know how to do it. After three days of meditation, he finally asks for help from each element—first from the desert and then from the wind itself until his final request reaches out to something greater than him: “the Soul of the World.” Suddenly, strong winds whip up around him and blow away everything in their path as well as anyone standing in its way.

The Alchemist leaves and Santiago goes to the Pyramids. He is attacked by robbers, who ask him why he’s there. He replies that he had a dream of treasure buried in the area. One robber laughs at him and says that he had the same dream, except that it was about Spain instead of Egypt. Santiago realizes that his real treasure was back home in Spain all along.

Then the story jumps forward in time and Santiago digs a hole at the base of that tree. He finds gold, which he uses to live happily ever after with Fatima.

the Prologue

In the story, a character finds a book that retells the myth of Narcissus. The myth traditionally tells how a youth named Narcissus loved his own image so much that he spent days looking at himself in a lake. One day, he was so infatuated with himself that he lost his concentration and fell into the lake and drowned. A flower grew where he fell and this plant came to be called narcissus.

The Alchemist Book Summary, by Paulo Coelho

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