Monday, October 08, 2007

The Fifth Mountain

Genre: Religion & Spirituality
Author:Paulo Coelho
It's been years since I last read Paulo Coelho's books. Personally I prefer Coelho's first three books (The Alchemist, Valkyries, and the Pilgrimage) over his later novels. For me, "The Alchemist" was the best, followed by "The Pilgrimage" and then "Valkyries". These books were filled with insights, ideas, and new age mysticism -- which drew my curiosity and interest. I had the chance to skim through his other books, and found that they paled in comparison to his first three novels.

A few weeks ago, I friend of mine lent me "The Fifth Mountain" and "The Devil and Miss Prym". I read the two books and I am still convinced that Coelho's first three novels are still his best works. I decided to do a fantasy review on "Fifth Mountain" simply because this novel is an attempt by Coelho to retell the story of the prophet Elijah in a new age/fantasy type of narrative.

Here Coelho tries to mix religion with new-age mysticism and philosophy into a pseudo-biography of the prophet. In the book, Elijah is shown as a man who has the gift to communicate with angels. What makes the novel interesting is the way Coelho manages to portray Elijiah as a flawed human being. Coelho's Elijah is not the same Elijah in the Bible. He tries to run away from his destiny as a prophet and a messenger of God. Elijah is a man constantly bombarded with self-doubt, fear, and frustration.

My main comment about the book is that it reflects the same ideas from "The Alchemist", "The Pilgrimage", and "Valkyries". Coelho seems to be recycling or promoting the same kind of spiritual philosophy in his all his books.

At the start of the story, Elijah refuses to become a prophet and decides to live his life as a carpenter. When Queen Jezebel decides to kill off Isarel's prophets, Elijah was forced to flee his homeland. Elijah continues to reject his destiny as a prophet, causing him to experience more pain and hardship. This same conflict was also seen in Coelho's "The Alchemist", where the shepherd boy was tempted several times to follow a path that was not meant for him.

One curious thing about the novel is that Coelho skips over the story of Elijah that is found in the Bible. Instead, he creates his own story about Elijah's exile. Coelho focuses his story on Elijah's stay in the city of Akbar. Here Elijah undergoes a spiritual journey, much like the journey in "Valkyries" and "The Pilgrimage". He falls in love, learns about himself, God, and his destiny.

I think this book be is a re-telling of "The Alchemist". Coelho recreates the story of Elijah to talk about his ideas on destiny, God, and spirituality. The story works on some levels, but there are some sections where Coelho rambles about his philosophy, which I find a bit too "new-age" for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm also a big Paulo Coelho fan and I don't know if you’ve heard about his blog
I started as a fan and now I'm collaborating with him and thought that you would like to enter his universe.
Check out the blog, if you want, or subscribe to his newsletter

You'll see a community of warriors of light sharing ideas, dreams and most importantly following their personal legend.

"Life always waits for some crisis to occur
before revealing itself at its most brilliant."

See you there and have a great day!