Written by Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist is a symbolic story that motivates readers to go after their dreams. Santiago was brought up in a poor background, with parents struggling to send him to seminary. However his dreams included travelling the world, hence his father gives him three ancient spanish coins to purchase a flock of sheep. Once a shepherd, he spends numerous years as a wonderer, living his life carefree, sleeping in a church where a sycamore tree grew where the sacristy once existed, meeting many people such as the beautiful daughter of a merchant in a town he plans to revisit. The mere hours he spent talking to her made him feel as if she was the one he''s destined to spend the rest of his life with. Thus he started to meditate the benefits of a more settled life.
Arriving to Tarifa (the port prior to the girl''s town), he decided to visit a gypsy fortune teller, that might help him decrypt a dream he kept having, that included a small kid that guided him to the Pyramids of Egypt, where a treasure was hidden. The gypsy concluded he had to go there, especially that a child guided him, thus the treasure really existed. This didn''t motivate him at first, but once he met an old man named the "Melchizedeck" (the king of Salem), he persuaded him by explaining that it was his personal legend and it would grant him great happiness if he followed it. The man gives Santiago two stones, the Urim and the Thurim, one which meant "yes", and the other one "no", that were supposed to help him with his decisions.
Santiago sells his sheeps, and decides to travel to Africa starting with Tangier where he is robbed. Starting to lose hope, he started working in a crystal shop to save up enough money to re-buy his flock of sheep. Once he started to clean the crystals, customers walked in and bought some of them. Thus the owner judged he was a good Omen and Santiago discovered that every person''s fate is written (Maktub), and there is an unspoken language of the world which he learned by dealing with sheep.
A year later, he accumulates enough money and leaves the shop, not to buy his flock of sheep but to chase his personal legend. He joins a caravan going to the desert, where the Pyramids existed. There, he meets an englishman who has searched for alchemists for ten years and learned the language of the desert and the Soul of the World.
Once in the oasis, the caravan is not allowed to proceed any further because of tribal wars. The Alchemist there believed that his disciple was sent in the caravan. A young woman named Fatima gave Santiago and the Englishman directions towards the Alchemist and Santiago falls in love with her at first sight.
Turning out to be the Alchemist''s disciple, he warns him about a tribal attack on the oasis through a vision he had while meditating two hawks. It was then that the Alchemist tells him that he wouldn''t be happy unless he fulfills his personal legend, which eventually he did, leaving with the Alchemist and learning from him along the way (especially to listen to his heart).
Both men are captured along the way and the Alchemist told the chief that they have brought money to him, before telling him that Santiago is a powerful Alchemist who can turn himself to wind and destroy the military camp if he wishes, offering their lives in case he failed in that. On the third day, Santiago took them up to a hill and used his knowledge of the Language of the World, talking to the desert about love and using its sand, then to the wind, then to the heavens (the sun), while the wind blew and blew. The "Simum" almost destroys the camp, thus they let both men leave out of fear, and they continued their journey towards the Pyramids, stopping first at a coptic monastery where Santiago is shown how to transform metal in gold and is given his share of the gold.
Arriving to the Pyramids, he falls on his knees and cries, before noticbeetle digging in the sand where his tears fave falling and taking it as an omen. He starts digging as well. Thieves come, steal his gold and beat him up. He gives up hope and the robber tells him he''s very stupid to have travelled so far, before telling him about a recurring dream about a treasure hidden in an abandoned church, where a shepher and his sheep slept, hidden under a sycamore tree, where the sacristy once existed.
Santiago understood it then. He went back to the monk, took some gold for his return trip and finds the treasure (a chest of Spanish gold coins). He laughs at this strange way God has given him his treasure, before feeling Fatima sending him a kiss with the wind.