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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


The Fifth Mountain
Paulo Coelho
HarperPerennial 04/99 Paperback $13.00
ISBN: 0-06-093013-6

In the ninth century B.C. 23-year-old Elijah is a prophet in Gilead who hears voices and has visions. When Jezebel, the Phoenician princess wed to King Ahab, orders all the prophets to worship Baal or be executed, he listens to an angel and flees to Akbar, a city in faraway Lebanon, where he finds shelter with a widow. He wins the approval of the townsfolk by raising her son from the dead. But alas, he cannot save the woman he loves who dies after the city is ravaged by the Assyrians. In a state of despair and doubts about God, Elijah tries to understand the tragedy that has befallen him.

This retelling of the life of Elijah by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho has an elegant simplicity to it — similar in spirit to the spiritual journey described in his bestselling The Alchemist. The prophet is forced to deal with "the unavoidable" when he least expects it. A crow and a shepherd help Elijah come to terms with his destiny. Only by struggling with the Most High does he find a way to rebuild his life and fulfill his mission. In The Fifth Mountain Coelho reveals the secrets of true questing — transcending the limitations of the past, breaking free from rigid habits, and practicing the impossible with enthusiasm and ardor.


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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