Top positive review
Fascinating and Intense, But Be Prepared to (Slightly) Suspend Your Belief in Reality
Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2019
This book about the Camino de Santiago is slightly bizarre, a bit peculiar and actually quite curious. It is also intensely spiritual. Despite the subject matter—a pilgrimage hike of 500 miles (mostly) through Spain to the shrine of St. James the Great in Galicia—its focus is not so much on the physical walk but rather an existential examination of the meaning of life.
Written by Paulo Coelho, the book greatly surprised me. After the first few pages, I had to confirm I was reading nonfiction and not a novel of magical realism. It is nonfiction, but the stories he tells feel like magic at times. Coelho participated in the pilgrimage in a quest to find his sword—the ultimate accomplishment—as part of the initiation into a religious group called the Order of the RAM. Along the way, he meets and fights with his personal devil in the guise of a dog, encounters mysterious guides, supernatural beings, and is taught a series of "exercises" to reach deep inside his soul. In one of those exercises he sees when he will die. He experiences the occult, miracles, physical and spiritual tests, personal battles, life lessons, and the all-consuming power of agape love.
It's a fascinating book, albeit quite intense. Read it for spiritual insight and be prepared to (slightly) suspend your belief in reality.