The Alchemist?was first published in 1988. The protagonist of the story, a young Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, is plagued with recurring dreams, wherein a mysterious child urges him to look for buried treasure at the base of the Egyptian pyramids. Determined, he leaves Spain and heads towards Egypt. En route, he meets the King of Salem, a man named Melchizedek. Melchizedek introduces Santiago to the concept of a Personal Legend or a personal map or a quest that guides him to what his h...eart truly desires.
While attempting to cross the Sahara desert on the way to Egypt, he joins a caravan which is driven by an Englishman who is aspiring to be an alchemist. During a stop over in Al-Fayoum, Santiago meets Fatima, a young girl of exceeding beauty who steals his heart. He asks her to marry him, but she declines saying that she will do so only once he has found the treasure he seeks. In the Saharan oasis of Al-Fayoum, Santiago meets a 200 year old alchemist who decides to accompany him on his expedition. He imparts wisdom and valuable knowledge to Santiago, who eventually understands why the supposed treasure keeps evading him.
Having sold over 65 million copies worldwide,?The Alchemist?is marked by its profound simplicity, the easy flow of the story, and the poignant moral it tries to teach the reader, that worldly possessions and extravagance are immaterial when compared to finding your own Personal Legend.