The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

the palace of illusionAll young Panchaali had known as a kid was one propechy. She has been foreseen to make a mark in history. That’s made  her so curious on how and why she would do it. Her nanny  has often rambled on and on how she and her elder brother, Dhri was born. Secretly, Panchaali didn’t all of it because she knew that Dhai Maa often mixed things with what she was true and what she actually wanted to happen.

It was true that she was born from fire that was prayed straight to the Gods. It was true, that the King, her father, only expected for a son. It was also true that her brother was prophesied to kill their father’s worst enemy and that she was about the change the course of history. But she didn’t really believe that her father welcomed them both. She had a fleeting blur kind of memory that when her father wanted to pick only her brother up to show to the crowd, they held hands so tight. Alas! Their father was forced to welcome them both.

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Kitab Omong Kosong (The Book of Nonsense) by Seno Gumira Ajidarma

kitab omong kosongKitab Omong Kosong is a sort-of-philosophical-fiction book, written in Indonesian language. This is my first difficult (and most challanging) Indonesian novel that I attempted to read. It revolves around  five theories about the worlds, each overlapping and going against the other theories. The theories are written in the form of a story that most people know, called Ramayana. However, the story of Ramayana is twisted in many ways, intertwined with the new plots and characters. Together, they are called Kitab Omong Kosong. How two young people named Satya and Maneka try to find the book, and what their life get to do with the life of Hanuman, the monkey God, who has a great and long spirit? It also tells us the destruction of the White horse army, which start from Maneka’s tatoo that begins this book of nonsense.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

alchemistThere was once a shepherd boy named Santiago. He had a dream about himself going to a gold located in the Pyramids, only to wake up before he retained it. The dream came to him repeatedly for 2-3 times. He went to an old lady to figure out what his dream meant. She told him that she would explain it if he found the gold and gave her 1/10th of it. He agreed. After having some ‘useless info’, Santiago met an old grandpa who was a king in disguise, and he told the king about his dream. The king replied him, in return of 1/10th of his sheep, he would help. The boy handed over some of the sheep in his flock. Only after he did, the king gave him advice. He also presented him Urim and Thummim. Those were a black and white stones, which were represented as ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The king left a really confused-but-excited-boy.

At that time, there was a war. When Santiago first went to Egypt, he got his money stolen by a trickster, forcing him to work for a Crystal Shop Owner. After  eleven months of helping his boss became richer and had a bigger shop, the boy almost forgot about his quest until when the two stones tumbled out. They made him remember.

Santiago then met an Englishman who was looking for an ‘Alchemist’ and was going to the same direction as the boy. The two became close friends. They travelled together to an oasis. There, the Englishman searched the place to find an alchemist. So, wanting to help the Englishman, Santiago went out and asked people where they could they find the Alchemist.

The first one was an Egyptian lady dressed in black. She said she did not know the alchemist-what-is-it. She told them that they should not talk to ladies dressed in black as they were already married. The lady was not supposed to talk to unmarried men.

After some time asking, Santiago saw a beautiful girl named Fatima. He fell in love at the first sight. Lucky for him, Fatima knew where the Alchemist was. The Englishmen eagerly ran to the direction of Fatima pointed. But, the Englishman went back in a really disappointed face, for the Alchemist’s answer was not what he was thinking off.

Soon, the boy himself met the Alchemist. But the truth, he was not really looking for the Alchemist, for it was a sort of coincidence. The Alchemist persuaded him to go and pursue his dreams. Santiago sadly left the Oasis and Fatima. He went on his way, without the Englishmen, but the Alchemist.

In his journey, Santiago learnt how to listen to his heart.

After traveling for some days, it was time for the Alchemist to leave the boy. Not for long, Santiago found the spot his heart thought where the treasure was. He started digging. His work was stopped by some fugitives of the war. He was told by one of the fugitives that he also had a dream about finding some gold in Santiago’s home town.

And that was where the boy found his treasure.


“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. The quote from The Alchemist is the heart of the story.

Why did the boy need to travel across Egypt for such a ‘useless journey’? Maybe then, he would had never found his true love or even met the Alchemist. Although the journey across Egypt ended up in a mess, the journey returned him some positive side effects. The boy’s future was very bright at the end of the story. He would return to the Oasis, marry Fatima, buy some sheep, and become a shepherd again. But this time, he would be with a his new family.

What I like about this book is, that when I finished it, I know it is a fable. Although the story itself is short, it tells me so many things. It tells me about love, adventure, dreams, fear, and determination. There is this saying that I often heard:  ‘We must always chase our dreams, or die trying.’ The boy accomplished the first few words in this sentence. He has overcame his fear.

In the book How to be A Pirate by Cressida Cowell, I remember what Cowell was striving to say “You always think that you can write with your right hand, but in the end, you can write with your left hand instead. ” This wisdom  reminds me of the boy in the story. The boy tried to get his treasure — this is like trying to write with your right hand — however, he found out that the treasure was actually in his home town — this is like finding out you can write with your left hand.

Take The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, for the example. While the boy made the journey, he did something like “there-and-back-again”, like the story in The Hobbit. He made it to the Pyramids (there), went back home (back), and would live in the Oasis with Fatima (again).

The writer, Paulo Coelho has won many writing awards. He writes drama, self -improvement, and psychology book genres. He is Brazilian. The Alchemist has been translated into 50+ languages.

Overall, this is a 10 over 10. This book has the value of spirituality and hope.