*Note: Andrew Benteau and Black Panel Press are not affiliated with the makers of The Alchemist. This review is provided purely for entertainment purposes.
My fiancée is Brazilian, and I always try to learn about her culture and language. Her favourite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and this is the graphic novel version of that book. I actually enjoy learning about cultures and languages– it’s part of why I started Black Panel Press. We have the original Portuguese version of O Alquimista in the house, but it’s still a little beyond my level of Portuguese, so I was excited to find out there was a graphic novel version that the author himself endorsed.
First of all, let me preface this by saying this isn’t a great translation: some of the phrases are a bit awkward, and there are spelling mistakes. As an editor, that gets on my nerves a little bit, but it really shouldn’t dissuade you from reading the book. It’s a classic of Brazilian literature, so just imagine you’re having a conversation with an immigrant friend.
As for the art, you might have guessed, it’s not really my style. It’s a little too polished and overworked for my taste. If you read any of the books I publish, you might get the sense that I like things that are a bit more organic and rough. But, I grew to appreciate Sampere’s artwork. He’s worked on DC comic books like The Joker and Superman, and he’s a big fan of action. Even when I was reading superhero comics it was never DC, only Marvel and there is a different style. Anyway, compared to those works, there’s not a ton of action in The Alchemist, but Sampere makes up for it with attention to detail in the objects and environments he illustrates.
The main character Santiago, is a young Spanish shepherd who dreams of romance, riches, and adventure. Pretty much all the things young men dream of. When an old clairvoyant and a mystical king promise him a path to treasure, he sets out to travel the world and fulfil his destiny.
In the book, they use the phrase “personal legend” a lot which can get a bit annoying because it could have been substituted for “destiny,” but the best thing to do is try to overlook that.
The story is about the search for meaning and life’s purpose. For me, it’s also a little about patience and perseverance.
Despite all of its strong points, I admit I felt a bit dissatisfied with the ending because it made some of the story unnecessary. If you can get a copy at your local library it might be worth checking it out, but otherwise, I can’t really recommend buying this version of the story. Based on the universal praise of the novel, I suspect that a lot of what made it special is missing in this version. That said, I did find myself going back to it a couple of times and finding it charming.
The novel’s available in English if you feel up to reading that, or you could wait for the film to come out. It’s stopped and started a bunch of times, but you never know. The last I heard, Idris Elba might be starring in it, so that would be really cool.
I’d love to hear what you thought about the book, so feel free to leave a comment below whether you love it or hate it. And if you want to pick up a copy you can find the link below. It’ll be an affiliate link, so we’ll make a small commission to help support us.
At Black Panel Press, we specialize in international graphic literature or, as I sometimes say, comics for bookworms. So head over to blackpanelpress.com and use promo code ALCHEMIST for 15% off your order.
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