• The Alchemist

  • A Fable About Following Your Dream
  • By: Paulo Coelho
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Irons
  • Length: 4 hrs
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (75,070 ratings)

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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)

Featured Article: Top Audiobooks From Latino Authors to Help You Reconnect to Your Roots


Latino and Hispanic culture is a multi-voiced culture composed of individuals from across Latin America and beyond. This list of audiobooks celebrates the stories of Latina and Latino authors and history. Whether you can relate, reminisce, or discover something new from these tales, they will help you reconnect with Latino and Hispanic roots, reminisce, or reflect on your own stories and heritage. These powerful voices are diverse and beautiful.

What listeners say about The Alchemist

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Timeless Tale

I've been listening to Audible books for years, but this is the first one that, after finishing it, I immediately bought a hard copy. In fact, I bought TWO!! One for me to (re)read and mark up with highlights and notes, and one to pass around to my family and friends! This story is an amazing parable, richly layered with insights for finding and living a richer, more grounded, more meaningful life. Never "preachy", this is an allegorical story written in lyrical language that stands beautifully on its own. Add the richness that Jeremy Irons's delivery brings to this Audible edition, and it becomes a transcendent experience.

319 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Saccharine for the Soul

My wife beat me to the punch with the line I’d intended to start my reflections on this: The Alchemist is this generation’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Then she took it a step further, reminding me that she enjoyed Jonathan Livingston Seagull when she was 13.

In many ways, I think that says it all. I didn’t know that much about the book except for the fact that a lot of people seem to have enjoyed it. It seemed to have acquired a reputation as contemporary ‘wisdom literature,’ something someone would encourage you to read if you were feeling down or uninspired.

If I squint, I get some of that. This is a fable, so you have to accept a certain amount of easy narrative and simplified conflict. Santiago sets off on a quest, and everything lines up to make that quest possible.

Still, there is something unquestionably adolescent about the whole business. We are told repeatedly that the universe is built to make true the dreams of those who believe most firmly. We’re assured that certain true believers – loosely defined so as to include those who fall truly in love – have a kind of secret path laid out for them; they just have to be earnest enough in its pursuit.

I can see how some people might be inspired to hear such a message at certain low points in their lives. I can’t see, though, how they can take it at all seriously. This is every bit as much a fantasy as Harry Potter, but, unlike there, we’re never invited to weight the real burdens of growing up. Instead, we are invited to stay within the confines of this comfortable, imagined strategy for confronting our individual destinies.

Perhaps worse, this sort of “prosperity gospel for the irreligious” seems to imply that failure is simply a lack of true faith in one’s destiny. It suggests that, if we aren’t fulfilled, we need to see how we passed up on the opportunities and “omens” that would have made us so.

As a result, this is pernicious in the way it gives us a fantasy for the privileged. Santiago may begin as a poor shepherd, but he’s always rich – literally so – in his capacity to choose the way in which he lives his life. This may not be about a seagull who see the world differently from his peers, but it’s the same entitled escapism. Most people fail to live their dreams because they are born into a poverty or connectedness that prevents them from self-indulgence. This book ignores that. Like the notorious Marie Antoinette, it invites everyone without sufficient bread simply to eat cake instead.
There is some fun here, and I like the way Coelho peppers the work with so many admiring references to Islam and the wisdom of other cultures. Plus, it reads easily, though I confess I grew bored with parts of it even though it’s a very short book.

Bottom line, I should have listened to my wife.

188 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Marvelous Book & Expressive Reader

No better choice to read this magnificent book by Paul Coelho than Jeremy Irons. It is exceptionally well read, with great expression, and wonderful adaption of voice to characters. I have had it on audio cassette since it was first released in that format and was delighted to find it available in audio-book format at CD quality. It's truly a must have and is suitable for all ages. The book is also most profound yet told simply with grace and depth.

169 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Personally, I did not care for it

This book was very little story surrounded by lots of rather ill-conceived philosophy. The little story there was is very simple with every small conflict easily resolved within a few 'pages'.

I also did not agree with several aspects of the 'follow your dreams at all costs' theme that the writer espoused. I don't want to put in any 'spoilers' but the writer put way too much emphasis on the 'personal legend'. I was sick of that phrase by the end...

Be warned it is VERY judeo-christian based, so if that kind of thing offends you, then stay away. I am a Christian, but still found the way the author used religion to be heavy-handed.

Perhaps if you are looking for inspiration you might enjoy it, but I left it feeling uninspired and wishing I had spent my credits elsewhere.

PS: Jeremy Irons did a good job with the reading, no complaints there.

167 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A must for every young person

I really enjoyed this book. While it is not necessarily the enthralling Hero's journey that I thought it would be, this book should be on every high school and college student's reading list. It helps to put your "personal legend" or life's mission into perspective. While it isn't nearly a basis for theology, it touches on the many issues that people face as they embark on their life's journey. I especially liked the Alchemist's advice about not giving up on your life's mission for love. While admirable and definitely worth while, if one ends their life journey to pursue love, they will regret it and eventually resent the one they love. On the other hand if that significant other truly loves you, they will encourage you to pursue your personal legend and even wait for you if need be. To stand in the way of another person fulfilling their purpose does an injustice to that person, but is also self detrimental. Each person is on this earth for a purpose. It is up to each of us to be open enough to God's plan to find and pursue that purpose. Then we can truly live rich and fulfilling lives.

133 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Heavy-handed

This book was like listening to a long sermon on a hot day, sitting in an uncomfortable pew while someone hits you upside the head with a canoe paddle.

I suggest drinking a shot every time you hear the word, "omen".

128 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • 06-28-11

This book ruined my personal legend

I had so much to give this audiobook. My hopes, my dreams, my time. I ventured out in search of treasure, but, alas, my personal legend was crushed under this lightweight novel like a wicker stool under a very large circus man. Quite possibly the most overrated novel in human history. Brutally redundant. Horrible writing. If you feel the stars may have aligned so that you might listen to or, dare I say, actually read this book, get a new alchemist. I'd rather be forced to read lyrics to the Black Eyed Peas' "Ring-A-Ling" song over and over and over again.

87 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo
  • 11-16-12

A quest for dreams come true

Santiago is a young man who proceeds in literally making his dreams come true. He is an ordinary man, full of doubts and fears, like you and me, but he has this drive inside of him and a courage to continue on his path. This is a fantastic fable filled with unsurmountable challenges and life changing choices. I do agree with a previous reviewer in that Paulo over uses "omen", but it's kind of funny when you expect it. Jeremy Irons does an amazing job with changing voices to match each character (his voice does get low at points though). This is, hands down, my favorite book.

61 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

57 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant story

I am completely in love with this story. I actually plan to listen to it again very soon because I expect it to be something that you get something different from it each time you hear it. Many important thoughts and lessons are throughout the book, and it is a great story too with wonderful characters.

47 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas
  • 04-14-15

Life changing

Just amazing, my life has begun a new chapter, I've quit my job and I'm moving abroad in 3 weeks.

65 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bev
  • 10-05-11

Mr Irons makes this reading beautiful

Whilst a lot of people may debate aspects of the book and its content in their review, I would like to comment on the extraordinary power and beauty of the reading by Jeremy Irons. His voice made this story a real joy to hear, I am going to search and see if he narrates any more on here. Having read the book before I can honestly say that Jeremy Irons' reading surpassed my reading by far. His dynamic tone and characterisation truly transport you on the magical journey of wonder that this book is all about. Thank you Audible, thank you Mr Irons, a beautiful 4 hours indeed.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Geoff Beattie
  • 10-07-11

Such an inspiring story

This was recommended by Will Smilth during an interview on his ideas of success.
It's a simple and interesting tale with lots of twists and thought provoking ideas.
Highly recommended to anyone, especially those interested in "the way" or personal development.

22 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Scharfschutze
  • 10-19-15

Pregnant with wisdom

The Alchemist stirred questions within me. It revealed wisdom that had been staring me in the face, which I had failed to recognise.

The story of the Centurion struck a deeply personal nerve, at a most vulnerable time, bringing tears to my eyes .

Jeremy Irons made the words leap of the page, as though they have a life of their own. I would recommend this book to anyone who is afraid of failure.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jen
  • 12-09-13

This story moved me.

Would you listen to The Alchemist again? Why?

This is a wonderful and thought-provoking tale. I wanted to listen again as soon as it was finished! It really invites you to read between the lines and reflect upon your own life story. Highly recommended.

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss B
  • 07-13-17

Absolutely loved it

I had just listened to 5 second rule by mel robbins who in her book suggested this book i am so glad i decided to listen to this. Such a beautiful & inspiring story with a lot of spiritual meanings. I listened to it in 1 day i just couldnt put it down. I have now ordered 2 of the paperback books for my children to read. This is a must on any book shelf :)

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Park Runner
  • 07-16-20

Trite, obvious and irritating

I struggled with this book. I think I must be swimming against the tide of love this book generates! It’s like a cross between an Aesop’s fable and ‘Jonathan Livingstone Seagull,’ which an ex-boyfriend of mine made me read once in an attempt to help me understand the universe from a more ‘spiritual’ perspective. Suffice to say, he became a monk and I became a committed pragmatist. This book is eerily reminiscent of the kind of trite and patronising nonsense that I really dislike in a book. The constant reference to ‘omens’ and ‘destiny’ became tedious quite quickly. It’s fairly obvious to me that life offers some wonderful opportunities which sometimes take real courage to engage with - that message isn’t particularly profound. The assertion that the universe works with you to ‘achieve your personal legend’ is fanciful at best and a beautiful lie at worst. Luck can play a big part in life’s fortunes, along with hard work, self-belief, resilience, and the support of one’s family and friends. But the universe itself couldn’t care less: life can end randomly and pointlessly at any time for no reason, so the message to ‘grab it whilst it lasts, challenge yourself and try to be happy’ is fairly obvious, isn’t it? Or perhaps I’m missing something? It probably didn’t help that Jeremy Irons’ reading of it is overwrought. His dodgy accents are awful (especially the cockney one for the Desert, Sun and Wind,) and some are just noisy and grating. This one is for me.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Collins
  • 07-02-13

Soft, easy and inspiring

What made the experience of listening to The Alchemist the most enjoyable?

This book is all it's hyped to be. A warming and inspiring story with great characters and intrigue. A nice twist too ;)

Jeremy Irons really enhanced the story for me too. His accents were apt and sometimes amusing; his voice acting top notch.

What did you like best about this story?

The ending, the characters.

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

I've not.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Irons made the experience absolutely better.

11 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Alison Readhead
  • 12-24-16

I don't understand the fuss over this

Jeremy Irons was great. However I am either not intelligent enough to 'get' this story or it's just a case of the emperor's new clothes. I found it hard to want to listen to it so took a while to finish it. I haven't really taken much from it. It did have a certain dreamlike style.

10 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Larissa
  • 09-04-17

wouldn't recommend

i found this book to be frustrating. "personal legends" "language of the universe" "following omens" ... while the boys story might have been somewhat interesting; learning that life may not always be what you expect, and to be open to opportunities.. the idea that we all have personal legends and the means to be able to learn the language of the universe is utter rubbish to me. i found this book to be void of substance, irritating and a bit pretentious. it also sounded a like a kids book toward the end. the boy "talks to the wind" and "talks to the sun" and the wind and the sun talk back to him. when they speak back, what they say is embarrassing.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hari S
  • 02-13-15

Love it

So many life lessons contains in this small book.
I would really recommend this book to whoever willing to learn about life.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cecile Wetdewich
  • 04-09-19

Must read for those who seeks what they have not found

Great story! Every living being should read or listen to this story. Loved listening to Jeremy Irons voice, made the story so much more adventurous!

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anthony
  • 12-08-17

Finished rather abruptly but otherwise a nice book

Certainly worth a look.

Narrative is well done. Story is good with a nice message. My only negative is it felt like the ending was wrapping up and then it ended before conclusion.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Marija Radovska
  • 01-19-22

Overrated.

Great narration.
Terrible story. Thinly veiled self help book with no substance. Leaves you feeling empty and annoyed.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ailene c.
  • 09-30-19

This audio book is just superb!

I got teary many times while listening to this. So profound and so many pearls of wisdom. Jeremy Irons’ reading is outstanding. I will be listening to this over and over.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Walter
  • 01-07-19

Well written

This book is a great piece of work and should be read by anyone who seeks treasure and meaning in life...

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ash
  • 12-09-18

Moral of the Story - Follow your Dreams...

Short, yet powerful.

On the one hand, it's a tale about a shepherd boy who goes on a journey, and on the other hand it's much, much, more. There are so many messages conveyed throughout, but I found the moral of the story to be: follow your dreams and listen to your heart.

For me, the tale also really highlighted how it is that we can become own biggest obstacles - how we shackle ourselves with one hand and hold the key in the other.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-12-17

Awesome.

Awesome! Great story. Well read. I loved it. I will listen to this many times!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel Stephenson
  • 03-25-19

An engaging and adventurous spiritual book.

I easily found time to listen to this book in one day. I tried stopping at one point but wanted to find out what was going to happen next and soon continued listening. I loved the narration, and thought the book was well thought through.

My only complaint is that the book is too short and finished kind of abruptly.

1 person found this helpful

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