In this novel, an Andalusian shepherd boy, has a dream about finding a treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. A gypsy woman and a mysterious king advise him to pursue his destiny. The old man says to Santiago: "To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation. All things are one. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

With the courage of an adventurer, Santiago sells his sheep and travels to Tangiers in Africa. After a thief steals his money, he takes a job with a crystal merchant. Crossing the desert on the next phase of his journey, Santiago meets an Englishman who is impressed with the boy's ability to follow his heart.

At a desert oasis, Santiago falls in love with Fatima and realizes that love is the transforming power of the world. He earns more money by predicting an attack on the oasis. True to the advice of the king, the boy has learned to read omens.

On the last leg of the journey, Santiago is befriended by an alchemist who helps him understand the language of the desert and the wind. This comes in very handy when the boy faces his most difficult test after they are captured by hostile Arabs.

Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist is an enchanting fable about the spiritual journey we all must take if we are to fulfill our dreams and play out our destiny. Along the way we need to learn how to trust our hearts, to read the world for signs of God, to listen to our dreams, to make the most of coincidence and luck, and to accept the subtle ways love "transforms and improves the Soul of the World."