The Alchemist Book Summary

Yesterday morning, I sat down with The Alchemist and 6 hours later finished it. Wow, what a book. I’ve read a fair number of books in the past few years, but none of them have kept me on the edge of my seat like The Alchemist.

The Alchemist is a story about a boy who is searching for his “Personal Legend”.  Essentially, a person’s “Personal Legend” is that person’s purpose, destiny, calling, etc.  The boy realizes he is being called by the world to go find his “Personal Legend”. The Alchemist tells the tale of the boy’s journey.

Summary of The Alchemist

In the beginning of The Alchemist, the boy has a dream about treasure and he goes to see a gypsy about it. The gypsy tells the boy the treasure is by the Pyramids of Egypt. After his meeting with the gypsy, in which is didn’t like, he meets a peculiar character who introduces himself as the King of Salem. The King know all about the boy’s past and present, and tells him he should go searching for the treasure. The King speaks of each person’s Personal Legend and that by going to search for the treasure, the boy can realize his Personal Legend.

In addition to speaking of each person’s Personal Legend, the King talks about language of omens. “Everything in life is an omen. There is a universal language , understood by everybody, but already forgotten.” Omens are signs of the world and if interpreted and watched for, can enable humans interact and communicate with the world and non-human beings. Omens are very important for people trying to realize their Personal Legend.

Initially, the boy is a little bit hesitant, but then he then sets off on an epic journey that spans from Spain to Egypt. Along the way, he is confronted with different challenges and has to overcome them. He has to deal with thieves, to learn about being a crystal merchant, learn the ways of the desert, and speak the language of the world. At the end, he finds his treasure, but only because he followed through in trying to find his Personal Legend.

Remarkable Quotes and Passages from The Alchemist

Here are some quotes and passages which had an impact on me:

  • “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
  • “When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”
  • “… 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.”
  • “That’s the principle that governs all things. In alchemy, it’s called the Soul of the World. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closet to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force. Everything on earth is being continuously transformed, because the earth is alive and has a soul. We are part of that soul, so we rarely recognize it working for us.”
  • “Courage is the quality most essential to understand the Language of the World.”
  • “Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and one day it will return there.”
  • “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams,, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
  • “What you need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World test everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward the dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, on ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon’.”
  • “Your eyes show the strength of your soul.”
  • “Love is a force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World. When I first reach through to it, I thought the Soul of the World was perfect. But later, I could see that it was like other aspects of creation, and had its own passions and wars. It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”
  • “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

My Recommendation

The Alchemist is a must read. The takeaways for me include living in the moment, never getting too high or too low, and realizing all things happen for a reason.

Have you read The Alchemist? What did you think?