This bestselling fiction by Paulo Coelho delighted me for several days. I recommend it to LDS and non-LDS readers, without reservation.
The Alchemist actually has little reference to the one called by that title, until well into the story, and he is not the principle character, although he plays a critical part. Rather than give away any of the plot myself, I’ll quote from the front cover:
. . . about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself a king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. . . . what starts out as a journey to find wordly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.
Before January 17, 2012, the Wikipedia page on the book had stated that The Alchemist had “sold more than 65 million copies.” On that date, I corrected what seemed obvious to me was an error, after which the Wikipedia page stated the following.
According to AFP news, it has sold more than 65 million copies in more than 150 countries, becoming one of the best-selling books in history. But according to the publisher HarperCollins, (back cover of paperback English edition), at the time of that paperback publication, all of Coelho’s many books had sold sixty-five million copies total; according to the author’s web site, twenty-one million copies of The Alchemist have been sold.
I was surprised that nobody had caught this error before I had, for I rarely examine Wikipedia pages critically. Wikipedia truly is not an encyclopedia.