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Publisher's Summary

Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its simplicity and wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an Alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a meditation on the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is art eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
©1988 Paulo Coelho (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it's full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams." (Publishers Weekly)

"It is short, but certainly packs a wallop. What makes the story even better is Jeremy Irons's unforgettable narration.... Irons's voice is crystal clear, and every word is given its own starring role in the text. He creates wondrous characters, male and female, that stay with us." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    21,526
  • 4 Stars
    4,911
  • 3 Stars
    1,833
  • 2 Stars
    532
  • 1 Stars
    312

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    20,240
  • 4 Stars
    3,550
  • 3 Stars
    944
  • 2 Stars
    165
  • 1 Stars
    118

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    18,702
  • 4 Stars
    3,900
  • 3 Stars
    1,616
  • 2 Stars
    519
  • 1 Stars
    295
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • ninjac
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 07-25-11

Narration adds to ho-hum story

I joined a book club and this was the first book they chose to do. I wouldn't have read this book otherwise. But I really enjoyed Jeremy Irons reading this. You will like this book if you like new age religious themes.

30 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kyria
  • Astoria, NY, USA
  • 01-04-06

Wonderful!

This is everything you want in an audiobook: a gorgeous story, beautifully read. I could listen to Jeremy Irons for hours... in fact, I did!

54 of 69 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining

If you are interested in classical literature that will keep its value, this book isn't it. If you want deeply drawn characters, this will disappoint. If you want an entertaining listen for a long drive, this may well be your choice! It is filled with thoughtful moments and insights into the human condition. It is filled with "religious" references, but that will not kill the story, but add to it. It is just a good listen.

18 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Moon
  • Arlington VA
  • 03-24-15

Magnificent!

This is a must read to all those who ask themselves existential questions: why am I here? What's life for? Why all the pain? Etc... The book does not delve into these questions but it paints a picture and the listener/ reader gets to interpret it. To me it was revealing and significant. I learn much about me and what life means to me by following the story of a boy through the desert of Africa. I wish you get as much as I did out of this book--and more! It is magnificent!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Over-rated

What did you like best about The Alchemist? What did you like least?

The central message is reiterated and reiterated. You won't finish without knowing it. What I liked least is that every New Age book has the same message, and many have a more contemporary approach. The story was so predictable that I found my mind constantly wandering. What is perhaps the worst part of the book is that it's incredibly male-centric!!! I cannot say this clearly enough, don't have your daughters read it. The main character is a male, and he falls in love with a woman who's role in life is to wait for him to achieve his "legend." Need I say more.

Has The Alchemist turned you off from other books in this genre?

YES!

What about Jeremy Irons’s performance did you like?

He has a magnificent voice with nuance and power at the same time.

Did The Alchemist inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to stay away from books like this forever.

Any additional comments?

It's such a tired message and a cliched story. I really don't get what all the hype is about it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kent
  • Springfield, VA, United States
  • 03-20-12

What a nice little allegory!

This is a pleasant little story. And, it's one of those books that bears re-reading (or re-listening, if you did the audiobook format, such as I did)! I has the same sort of feel as "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran, or "Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse - and similarly carries a lot of subtle and overt life-messages in it's concise text. It is one of those stories that I'll ponder for quite a long time!
Jeremy Irons did a fantastic job with the narration - lots of variety in voices, and LOTS of emotion and feeling in the emphasis of dialogue!
This was a short, quick, and easy listen, and was very much worth my time!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rick
  • Urcuquí, Ecuador
  • 11-02-14

Thoughtful listening

Paulo Coelho's tightly crafted little fable has become something of a contemporary classic in the nearly twenty years since it first appeared. It's a thought-provoking, somewhat mystical perspective on values--what really matters in life, and what really doesn't. The obvious things, it turns out, really don't, and anyone who pays close attention is likely to be better for the experience. The reading in the velvety voice of Jeremy Irons is perfect.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

"5 Stars Across The Board"

Would you listen to The Alchemist again? Why?

I would definitely listen to the title for a second time. It is a compelling novel about following your dreams no matter the hardships that come along with trying to achieve them. In the novel, Santiago dreamt of a life of travel and treasure, and made strides toward achieving both although he experienced some stumbling blocks along the way, including loosing all of his possessions to a street their and traveling the deserts during a time of war.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Alchemist?

The most memorable moment for me was when Santiago met Fatimah. This part of the novel intrigued me because it spoke of two beings in love with never having known each other before hand. Santiago speaks of knowing he would love her before he ever even knew her and believes that they both loved one another at first sight, because they understood the language of the universal language of the world.

Have you listened to any of Jeremy Irons’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have never listened to any of his other performances, but I do remeber his role as Scar in "The Lion King".

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

One moment in the book that really moved me was when Santiago met the old King. During their interaction, the old King said something that will stick with me for eternity. It read, "when you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it".

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Arnold
  • North Ridge, CA, USA
  • 04-24-06

A Meanigful Listen

Jeremy Irons does a wonderful job narrating this work. The story is an easy listen. It is packed with lots of meaning and there were times I wanted to stop the audio just to think about what was being said. Lessons on life, love and the way we see the world can be found in this wonderful story.

26 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • EW
  • Corydon,IN
  • 10-21-11

Eh.....

Well I thought I would really like this book but didn't like it much at all. The story on the surface is very plain. The plot takes the main character in a big circle and back to square one with no "happy" ending (really it feels like no ending at all). It does have a deeper meanings that you can read into some but still not an exciting read. If I hadn't been one of those people who has to finish a book once it is started I would have put it down early rather than finishing.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-08-17

General new age BS

I don't understand why this book is so popular. It's just a load of trite statements thrown together.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gabi Everett
  • 01-19-17

Great narration

The story itself is predictable, and the writing is very cheesy at times. Jeremy Irons is the real reason I kept listening, his performance is wonderful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • lilac
  • 12-03-16

Not a book for feminists!

This is a really unusual and imaginative book which is very well read by Jeremy Irons. I enjoyed a lot of the story and the overall idea, but I found the story horribly sexist.

The whole story is based around a boy who goes in search of his personal legend (basically his life purpose) this involves many adventures, exciting discoveries, meeting new people (almost exclusively men) who help him discover new aspects of himself and life.

Meanwhile he meets a grand total of two women. We aren't told anything about the life purpose of the first woman but the second does have a life purpose. It is to sit at home and wait until a man comes along to complete her and then to wait (at home) while he goes and pursues his dreams!!!!!!! The very fact that she has met him means her life is complete, even if he doesn't bother to come back.

On top of that the whole story is filled with lines like "when a man goes in search of his dreams . . ." "a man must follow his destiny . . ." I'm really not sure if the author actually meant this only applies to men or if he was using "men" when he should have said people. Either way I was getting angrier and angrier listening.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Benedikt
  • 05-23-16

On point

Great story and on point. Easy to listen to with a good message. . .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 04-04-12

Great Story - Great Narrator

This was recommended to me by a friend and I really enjoyed it. The narration was 1st class.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • EGR
  • 09-20-15

Trite

Zero characterisation, pedestrian writing, and the "lessons" it pretends to teach are trite. The reading wasn't bad though.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Natalie
  • 06-24-12

Beautiful reading

As the first audiobook I have listened to, I worried about the narrative voice blurring my own appreciation of a wonderful story. Irons' narration, however, is expressive and clear and brings a real authority to the reading.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jacob
  • 10-18-15

Excellent - definitely recommend

totally engrossing, brilliantly narrated and I would recommend this to anyone with a bit of time on there hands. it's a short story with a big impact.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-24-18

Superb story, narration and message!

Memorable story with important messages often lost upon us in this day. Will listen to again.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 05-21-18

Soul etching

It touches my soul and draws tears every time I give it a listen

I feel a connection that resonates with different facets of my mind. The hope that one can look forward to no matter how grim things may seem, and the reality that you don't need to get exactly what you want to be happy.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-30-18

A good old story

Great book with a great message.
Fantastic performance by Jeremy Irons.
Quick easy book to get through.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • The Wolf
  • 04-29-18

A little bit of a ramble.

I know that this book is meant to be a classic, but to me all of the mystical messages are really rather un useful in real life.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lincoln
  • 04-11-18

Incredible Story

Incredible story with lots of hidden messages that will help in life and beyond, thank you Paulo.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-21-18

I'm biased

This is one of my favorite books and Jeremy Irons is one of my favorite actors, so I enjoyed this immensely.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer Hamilton
  • 03-15-18

Always a favourite

It gets deeper every time I reread it and the story always returns at the right on time in my life. Inspiring, deep yet simple, and a delight to listen to.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Cherie
  • 03-07-18

Was ok

Had some nice messages throughout. I listened to the audio but I think I'd prefer to read this at my own quicker pace.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Justin
  • 03-01-18

not what i expected at all

this is like an early version of the secret.. I enjoyed listening to it, but thought I would be getting more wilbur Smith african adventure than what i got..

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-28-18

Fantastic

Jeremy Irons narrates
this classic so very, very well. Immensely enjoyable listen. I highly recommend

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-27-18

A beautiful story and brilliantly narrated.

A beautiful story and brilliantly narrated. Such a clever end. i just loved this book.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-08-18

Refunded

I found this book to be delusional, narcissistic, sexist and self-affirming.
I would not recommend it