Fifth Mountain [NOOK Book]


In the ninth century b.c., the Phoenician princess Jezebel orders the execution of all the prophets who refuse to worship the pagan god Baal. Commanded by an angel of God to flee Israel, Elijah seeks safety in the land of Zarephath, where he unexpectedly finds true love with a young widow. But this newfound rapture is to be cut short, and Elijah sees all of his hopes and dreams irrevocably erased as he is swept into a whirlwind of events that threatens his very existence.


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Fifth Mountain

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In the ninth century b.c., the Phoenician princess Jezebel orders the execution of all the prophets who refuse to worship the pagan god Baal. Commanded by an angel of God to flee Israel, Elijah seeks safety in the land of Zarephath, where he unexpectedly finds true love with a young widow. But this newfound rapture is to be cut short, and Elijah sees all of his hopes and dreams irrevocably erased as he is swept into a whirlwind of events that threatens his very existence.

Written with the same masterful prose and clarity of vision that made The Alchemist an international phenomenon, The Fifth Mountain is a quietly moving account of a man touched by the hand of God who must triumph over his frustrations in a soul-shattering trial of faith.

"In this retelling and extensive extrapolation of the story of the Hebrew prophet Elijah, Coelho situates his New Age prose in an appropriate biblical setting. An excellent and faithful translation willing to follow the rhythms and belabored biblical style of the original"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 58.

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Editorial Reviews

Time Magazine
More ambitious...than The Alchemist, it is lightened by Coelho's appropriately spare writing style...A thought-provoking personal tale.
More ambitious...that The Alchemist, it is lightened by Coelho's appropriately spare writing style...A thought-provoking personal tale.
Library Journal
This fascinating retelling of the biblical story of the prophet Elijah by Brazilian novelist Coelho is smoothly translated to read like a modern novel. The fleshed-out tale follows Elijah as he flees his homeland of Israel, where Jezebel, Phoenician wife of the king, had ordered the murder of all who reject the pagan god Baal, to Zarephath (Akbar). Elijah's spiritual crises continue after he is taken in by a widow and her son, following his direction from an angel, and ultimately falls in love with the widow. The movement of the novel comes from Elijah's introspective struggle with faith as he confronts his troubles, but the result is neither dull nor preachy and should find a niche among readers of popular fiction. -- Ann H. Fisher, Radford Public Library, Virginia
Library Journal
This fascinating retelling of the biblical story of the prophet Elijah by Brazilian novelist Coelho is smoothly translated to read like a modern novel. The fleshed-out tale follows Elijah as he flees his homeland of Israel, where Jezebel, Phoenician wife of the king, had ordered the murder of all who reject the pagan god Baal, to Zarephath Akbar. Elijah's spiritual crises continue after he is taken in by a widow and her son, following his direction from an angel, and ultimately falls in love with the widow. The movement of the novel comes from Elijah's introspective struggle with faith as he confronts his troubles, but the result is neither dull nor preachy and should find a niche among readers of popular fiction. -- Ann H. Fisher, Radford Public Library, Virginia
Time Magazine (International Edition)
More ambitious...than The Alchemist, it is lightened by Coelho's appropriately spare writing style...A thought-provoking personal tale.
Kirkus Reviews
A huge improvement over Brazilian author Coelho's last, the gucky religious romance By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. The carpenter Elijah, at age 23, knows he's a prophet because an angel keeps visiting him and giving him orders on what to do with his life. The Israelites and their One God live under the heels of the Phoenicians and of the slinky Jezebel of Samaria, worshipper of Baal. Jezebel sends her troops and priests out to slay all Israelite prophets, of whom there are many, and so Elijah's angel tells him to flee to the desert, where a crow will feed him daily. Indeed, the crow not only feeds him but talks to him as well, although Elijah insists that he's really talking only with himself. Then the angel appears again, this time telling Elijah that he must avenge the Lord—a plan that includes his going to Akbar and living with a widow. The widow at first resists taking him in. And when her boy dies, the townsfolk take the Israelite's presence as a curse and the cause of the child's death. The priests send Elijah up on Baal's Fifth Mountain, where they assume he'll be consumed by fire. Instead, of course, his angel appears and tells him to return to the widow and raise her boy from the dead. This he does, though the priests don't accept the miracle. In a later test of faith, Elijah, triumphing over these same priests, sets in motion a series of events leading both to Jezebel's death and Baal's humbling. Eventually, Elijah—still alive—is carried off to heaven in a chariot of fire. Compellingly, everyone keeps keen score on the gods as if they are strangely real rival sports teams. Coelho meanwhile handles religion, politics, battles, plagues, theearthshaking arrival of the alphabet, and the destruction and rebuilding of Akbar with realism, suspense, and down-to-earth dialogue. Surprisingly persuasive storytelling.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061843525
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 102,519
  • File size: 514 KB

Meet the Author

Paulo Coelho

The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theater director, actor, lyricist, and journalist. Coelho wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music, such as Elis Regina and Rita Lee, yet he is best known for his work with Raul Seixas. Together they wrote such successes as "Eu nasci há dez mil anos atrás" ("I Was Born Ten Thousand Years Ago"), "Gita," and "Al Capone."

His fascination with the spiritual quest dates back to his hippie days, when he travelled the world learning about secret societies, oriental religions, etc. In 1982, Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985, he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves, since he considered it "of bad quality." In 1986, Paulo Coelho did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.


His books have been translated into 56 languages, topped bestseller lists throughout the world, and scored him such celebrity fans as Julia Roberts, Bill Clinton, and Madonna; yet for Brazilian publishing phenom Paulo Colho, the road to success has been strewn with a number of obstacles, many of them rooted in his troubled past.

As a youth, Coelho was expected to follow in the footsteps of his father, a professional engineer. When he rebelled, expressing his intentions to become a writer, his parents had him committed to a psychiatric hospital where he was subjected to electro-shock therapy. He left home to join the 1970s countercultural revolution, experimenting with drugs, dabbling in black magic, and getting involved in Brazil's bohemian art and music scene. He teamed with rock musician Raul Seixas for an extremely successful songwriting partnership that changed the face of Brazilian pop -- and put a lot of money in Coelho's pockets. He also joined an anti-capitalist organization called the Alternative Society which attracted the attention of Brazil's military dictatorship. Marked down as a subversive, he was imprisoned and tortured.

Amazingly, Coelho survived these horrific experiences. He left the hippie lifestyle behind, went to work in the record industry, and began to write, but without much success. Then, in the mid-1980s, during a trip to Europe, he met a man, an unnamed mentor he refers to only as "J," who inducted him into Regnum Agnus Mundi, a secret society that blends Catholicism with a sort of New Age mysticism. At J's urging, Coelho journeyed across el Camino de Santiago, the legendary Spanish road traversed by pilgrims since the Middle Ages. He chronicled this life-changing, 500-mile journey -- the culmination of decades of soul-searching -- in The Pilgrimage, published in 1987.

The following year, Coelho wrote The Alchemist, the inspirational fable for which he is best known. The first edition sold so poorly the publisher decided not to reprint it. Undaunted, Coelho moved to a larger publishing house that seemed more interested in his work. When his third novel (1990's Brida) proved successful, the resulting media buzz carried The Alchemist all the way to the top of the charts. Released in the U.S. by HarperCollins in 1993, The Alchemist became a word-of-mouth sensation, turning Coelho into a cult hero.

Since then, he has gone on to create his own distinct literary brand -- an amalgam of allegory and self-help filled with spiritual themes and symbols. In his novels, memoirs, and aphoristic nonfiction, he returns time and again to the concepts of quest and transformation and has often said that writing has helped connect him to his soul. While his books have not always been reviewed favorably and have often become the subject of strong cultural and philosophical debate, there is no doubt that this self-described "pilgrim writer" has struck a chord in readers everywhere. In the 2009 edition of the Guiness Book of World Records, Coelho was named the most translated living author -- with William Shakespeare the most translated of all time!

Good To Know

Few writers are able to accomplish what Coelho can in just two to four weeks -- which is how long it takes for him to write an entire novel.

Before become a bestselling novelist, Coelho was a writer of a different sort. He co-wrote more than 60 songs with Brazilian musician Raul Seixas.

Coelho is the founder of the Paulo Coelho Institute, a non-profit organization funded by his royalties that raises money for underprivileged children and the elderly in his homeland of Brazil.

In our interview with Coelho, he shared some fascinating facts about himself:

"I have been practicing archery for a long time; a bow and arrow helps me to unwind."

"In writing, I apply my feminine side and respect the mystery involved in creation."

"I love almost everything about my work, except conferences. I am too shy in front of an audience. But I love signings and having eye contact with a reader who already knows my soul."

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    1. Hometown:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Education:
      Left law school in second year
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The Fifth Mountain
A Novel Chapter One

I have served a Lord who now abandons me into the hands of my enemies," said Elijah.

"God is God," the Levite replied. "He did not tell Moseswhether He was good or evil; He simply said: I am. He is everything thatexists under the sun—the lightning bolt that destroys a house, and thehand of man that rebuilds it."

Talking was the only way to ward off fear; at any moment, soldiers wouldopen the door to the stable where they were hiding, discover them both,and offer the only choice possible: worship Baal, the Phoenician god, orbe executed. They were searching house by house, converting the prophetsor executing them.

Perhaps the Levite would convert and escape death. But for Elijah therewas no choice: everything was happening through his own fault, and Jezebelwanted his head under all circumstances.

"It was an angel of the Lord who obliged me to speak to King Ahab andwarn him that it would not rain so long as Baal was worshiped in Israel,"he said, almost in a plea for absolution for having heeded what the angelhad told him. "But God acts slowly; when the drought begins to takehold, Princess Jezebel will already have destroyed all who remain loyalto the Lord."

The Levite said nothing. He was reflecting on whether he should convertto Baal or die in the name of the Lord.

"Who is God?" Elijah continued. "Is it He who holds the swordof the soldier, the sword that executes those who will not betray the faithof our patriarchs? Was it He who placed a foreign princess on our country'sthrone, so that all this misfortune could befall our generation? Does Godkill the faithful, the innocent, those who follow the lawof Moses?"

The Levite made his decision: he preferred to die. Then he began to laugh,for the idea of death frightened him no longer. He turned to the young prophetbeside him and attempted to calm him. "Ask God, since you doubt Hisdecisions," he said. "I have accepted my fate."

"The Lord cannot wish us to be massacred without mercy," insistedElijah.

"God is all-powerful. If He limited Himself to doing only that whichwe call good, we could not call Him the Almighty; he would command onlyone part of the universe, and there would exist someone more powerful thanHe, watching and judging His acts. In that case, I would worship that morepowerful someone."

"If He is all-powerful, why doesn't He spare the suffering of thosewho love Him? Why doesn't He save them, instead of giving might and gloryto His enemies?"

"I don't know," said the Levite. "But a reason exists, andI hope to learn it soon."

"You have no answer to this question."


The two men fell silent. Elijah felt a cold sweat.

"You are terrified, but I have already accepted my fate," theLevite said. "I am going out, to bring an end to this agony. Each timeI hear a scream out there, I suffer, imagining how it will be when my timecomes. Since we've been locked in here, I have died a hundredfold, whileI could have died just once. If I am to be beheaded, let it be as quicklyas possible."

He was right. Elijah had heard the same screams, and he had suffered beyondhis ability to withstand.

"I'm going with you. I weary of fighting for a few more hours of life."

He rose and opened the stable door, allowing the sun to enter and exposethe two men hiding there.

The Levite took him by the arm, and they began to walk. If not for one thenanother scream, it would have seemed a normal day in a city like any other—asun that barely tingled the skin, the breeze coming from a distant oceanto moderate the temperature, the dusty streets, the houses built of a mixtureof clay and straw.

"Our souls are prisoners of the terror of death, and the day is beautiful,"said the Levite. "Many times before, when I felt at peace with Godand the world, the temperature was horrible, the desert wind filled my eyeswith sand and did not permit me to see a hand's span before me. Not alwaysdoes His plan agree with what we are or what we feel, but be assured thatHe has a reason for all of this."

"I admire your faith."

The Levite looked at the sky, as if reflecting briefly. Then he turned toElijah. "Do not admire, and do not believe so much; it was a wagerI made with myself. I wagered that God exists."

"You're a prophet," answered Elijah. "You too hear voicesand know that there is a world beyond this world."

"It could be my imagination."

"You have seen God's signs," Elijah insisted, beginning to feelanxiety at his companion's words.

"It could be my imagination," was again the answer. "In actuality,the only concrete thing I have is my wager: I have told myself that everythingcomes from the Most High."

The street was deserted. Inside their houses, the people waited for Ahab'ssoldiers to complete the task that the foreign princess had demanded: executingthe prophets of Israel. Elijah walked beside the Levite, feeling that behindeach door and window was someone watching him—and blaming him for whathad happened.

"I did not ask to be a prophet. Perhaps everything is merely the fruitof my own imagination," thought Elijah.

But, after what had occurred in the carpenter's shop, he knew it was not.

The Fifth Mountain
A Novel
. Copyright © by Paulo Coelho. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Interviews & Essays

On Wednesday, March 4th, welcomed Paulo Coelho, author of THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN.

Brigitte from Midland, TX: I read that THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN has been translated into 38 different languages. Could you please try to explain the international popularity of your work? Why do you think the United States is slow to catch on?

Paulo Coelho: In fact, I have sold more than 600,000 copies of all my books in the U.S. My American readers are responding very well to my books. The only problem is that the media still do not give me any important space. As for the popularity, I believe that my books try to share my experience -- not my wisdom, because I believe that we all have the same wisdom. But as for experience, we have different ones, and it is good to know that by sharing our way to live our lives, we feel that we are not alone.

Luis from Madera, CA: I enjoyed reading THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN. It was the first book of yours I've read. Would you consider yourself a spiritual person? Do you consider yourself lucky that you are able to combine your spiritual beliefs with your work?

Paulo Coelho: I consider myself as someone who decided to follow a dream, and to pay the price of it. My dream was to be a writer, something nearly impossible in Brazil. My mother told me to be a lawyer -- I could earn a living by being a lawyer, not a writer, she said. I try to live my life according to the "The Manual of Good Behavior," but, fortunately, I forgot this unwritten book and decide to write my own.

Terrence from South Royalton, VT: In the beginning of THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN, you tell a story about your former career as a record executive and how your termination was what brought you to writing. Why did you decide to tell this story before THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN? It's unusual for an author to offer such personal insight into the creation of a novel.

Paulo Coelho: Any book is, in one way or another, the mirror of a writer's soul. And this is my case.

Shanna Freidman from Bay Shore, NY: How long did it take you to write THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN? How much research did you need to do while writing THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN?

Paulo Coelho: It took two months to write it (first draft) and several months to rewrite it. But the basic question of the book --Why tragedy gets us some times in our lives -- has been with me for a long time. And we should consider that also as part of the process of writing, because, inside myself, the book was taking form.

Elise from Brooklyn, NY: For those of us who haven t read THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN, could you provide a short description?

Paulo Coelho: A man fighting against his destiny. And -- fortunately -- losing this battle. I took the prophet Elijah as the main character, because he was, in his youth, in exile, trying to find a way of life that was not his own.

Mark from New York City: Paulo, I read BY THE RIVER PIEDRA I SAT DOWN AND WEPT. I loved it. Thank you for writing it. I am an avid reader of Pablo Neruda, and I must say I found some simliarities between your view on the world and Mr. Neruda's, in your passion, and the attention you both pay to the romantic aspects of the environment. Is he an influence of yours? Thank you, I've always wanted to ask.

Paulo Coelho: Neruda had a strong influence in my youth. And BY THE RIVER PIEDRA is the way that I found to accept -- and even to discover -- my feminine side. Pilar is Paulo Coelho.

Thomas Garneau from Bradenton, FL.: What books are Brazilians reading right now? Other than your books, of course...

Paulo Coelho: INTO THIN AIR, Grisham, Sheldon. I believe that Brazilian best sellerlists are not very different from everywhere else.

Amanda from Brazil: When did you decide to talk about spiritual things?

Paulo Coelho: This was my inner quest since my youth -- the hippie generation. I decide to write about this because this was the way that I found to organize my thoughts.

Marian Mitchell from Bellingham, WA: You traveled for both THE PILGRIMAGE and THE VALKYRIES. Did you do any traveling for THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN?

Paulo Coelho: In fact, I only went to Lebanon (where the book takes place) some months after finishing the FIFTH MOUNTAIN. I was surprised to see that Lebanon was exactly as I saw it with the eyes of my soul. As for THE VALKYRIES and THE PILGRIMAGE, when I made these journeys, I never thought of writing about them . However, I did travel twice to write a book on a specific subject, and it did not work. I lost the openess that I should have had, because I was too concentrated on writing.

Kielty Gallagher from San Diego, CA: Mr. Coelho, hello. I read that you have walked the Camino de Santiago. I, too, walked 100 miles of the Camino one year ago, last June. The feeling I got upon entering St. James Cathedral is indescribable. Can I ask you to share some thoughts about the Camino? Thank you!

Paulo Coelho: The Spanish poet Machado once wrote "Wanderer, there is no road, you make the road as you go. "I believe that this is the best definition of El Camino. It is a pilgrimage that I suggest to everyone, regardless of creed, spiritual vision, etc.

Holly Roberts from Detroit, MI: In THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN, Elijah had the ability to see angels as a child, an ability he suppressed when he was an adult (until it was unavoidable). Do you feel children are more open to seeing angels than adults are?

Paulo Coelho: I do feel that. But I am also convinced that we can listen to this child again -- if we fear not what she or he is telling us.

Darcy Halloway from Arlington, VA: Will any of your books be made into movies?

Paulo Coelho: Warner bought THE ALCHEMIST" (today I consider that a big mistake, because so far there are no plans to turn it into a movie -- even after several scripts. THE VALKYRIES is under option by the Arenas Group (Hollywood) and, in my opinion, will be the first to be made. BY THE RIVER PIEDRA is under option by the French actress Isabelle Adjani. Now I've decided to wait a little -- I have no plans to sell the rights of THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN until one of these above-mentioned movies is released.

Shelley from Miami, FL: Will you be on a book tour in the United States to promote THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN?

Paulo Coelho: I am leaving tomorrow to Europe and Asia, to start the promotion tour of THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN. Up to now, I have made four promotion tours in the U.S. for previous books. I will go to the U.S. in May, after Japan. If you want to see my travel plans, please go to my home

Amanda from Brazil: Why is THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN your only book where the title is not really the same in all languages? In Portuguese the title is MONTE CINCO. Why not A QUINTA MONTANHA?

Paulo Coelho: Good question. In nearly all the countries that will be releasing the book in March, MOUNT FIVE (the original title) sounds like a book about war, hills that should be taken, etc. It worked only in Portuguese. There is another book of mine that has several different titles O DIARIO DE UM MAGO (The Diary of a Magus) has a different title in nearly each country that it was published in. In the U.S., it is calledTHE PILGRIMAGE. All the other books kept the same title as in Portuguese.

Janssen from Golden, CO: How soon after your lost your job did you begin writing? And which book was it?

Paulo Coelho: It took another six years. I had to have a rite of passage -- in my case it was the pilgrimage to Santiago. But my destiny was there, waiting for me. In between, I created a small publishing house, to -- at least -- be near the process of editing books. By the way, the publishing house did not work!

Asterisk from Seattle, WA: The feeling I got from reading THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN is that all things happen for a reason. Even if our lives feel completely random, there s a reason our lives take the path they take. Is that your belief? Does one really need to experience tragedy to reach one's dream? Thanks.

Paulo Coelho: I believe in joy. But, sometimes, tragedy is around the corner, waiting for us. And there is no way out -- so we have to accept, and to wait till it goes away. And for "coincidences," you are right. Everything has a purpose in life. It depends on us to recognize this purpose.

Shelley from Miami, FL: This year is the tenth anniversary of the first publication of THE ALCHEMIST -- is there anything special planned to mark the occasion?

Paulo Coelho: We will have a big event in Tarifa, the place where Santiago, the main character, starts his journey. Everybody is welcome! Music, dance, etc.! Ten years, and still wandering around the world, this shepherd boy deserves a party, don't you agree?

Dianne from Philadelphia, PA: Who are your literary influences? Whom do you like to read?

Paulo Coelho: Henry Miller. Jorge Amado. Jorge Luis Borges. William Blake. These are the main influences.

Margo Slater from Davidson, NC: With all that Elijah has to face -- arrows, high priests, Ahab -- one of the times he is most scared is when he falls in love with the Widow. Do you think that's an accurate depiction of love?

Paulo Coelho: An accurate description of love -- as most of us see it. Because love is the only thing that we cannot control. We can fight against arrows, Ahab, but we fear to follow love -- because we never know where it will take us. It is time to face this fear and surrender ourselves to the unexpected. We wait for Mr. Right and lose all the interesting things of Mr. Wrong.

Jackson from Telluride, CO: Did the Fifth Mountain and the worshippers of Baal actually exist?

Paulo Coelho: The Fifth Mountain exists. As for the worshipers, I don't know.

K. Gallagher from La Jolla, CA: What have you done with your conch shell from the Camino? Do you display it for others to see, or is it hidden away in some private place?

Paulo Coelho: I left it in the Cathedral of Santiago. In fact, I had three shells, creating a kind of sanctuary for N.S. Aparecida, the Virgin that is considered the protector of Brazil. It was very fragile -- the three shells glued together, and the image of Aparecida in the center. But it survived intact the challenges of the pilgrimage.

Michael from Princeton, NJ: I found the whole evolution of the alphabet and of papyrus in THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN fascinating. How much of that was based on history? When the alphabet was catching on as a form of communication, did it meet with such violent resistance as it does in Akbar from the High Priest?

Paulo Coelho: As far as my researches go, the answer is yes. The facts described in the book are based on history -- but I must stress that this is not a historical book. It is a book about human conflicts -- there are still the same conflicts 3,000 years later.

Carter from Tempe, AZ: Did you by any chance take part in the festivities during Carnival? How was it this year?

Paulo Coelho: For most Brazilians, Carnival has lost totally its original flavor and has become a tourist attraction. I hate Carnival. I spent Carnival writing my new book, which is about folly, madness, asylums, crazy people. It is called VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE, and it will be published in the U.S. next year.

Pietro from Albany, NY: I think it was John Updike who wrote that your country -- Brazil -- has an inferioriy complex, that the slogan The Land of the Future is almost a curse and Brazil will always be The Land of the Future and never actually achieve its potential. Would you care to comment on that?

Paulo Coelho: Updike's book BRAZIL is not an accurate vision of the country. But he is right about the idea of The Land of Future and wrong about the inferiority complex.

Todd Krugman from Boulder, CO: I too walked the Camino, for four weeks. It was the most difficult and most triumphant thing I've ever done. I found the most remarkable aspect of it to be the generosity of the people who live along the route, offering shelter, food, and drink. They amazed me. My question is this -- the most common thing that I received from these generous Spaniards was bread and wine. The religious implications did not escape me. Are you a religious man? Was the pilgrimage a religious experience for you?

Paulo Coelho: Thank you for sharing with other people who are participating in this chat, your experience in the Camino. You have nearly everything there -- generosity yes, but one of my friends, starving, has been denied a small piece of bread. I believe that the Camino is a good symbol for life. And yes, I am Catholic, but I don't transfer to my religion the responsibility of my spiritual search -- this is up to me. And I also believe that, no matter what religion you are in, they all lead to God. Christ said "The house of my Father has many mansions."

Shelley from Miami, FL: Your books all seem to carry a theme of "Love is Freedom"-- unconditional love that is.... Do you think that romantic love is a stepping-stone or stumbling block to unconditional love?

Paulo Coelho: I believe that earthly love lead us to the love of God. People tend to separate the two -- one as "sin," the other as "sacred." The art of alchemy is to project the spiritual world into this material one.

Gert from Hanover, NH: At one point in THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN, when the Assyrians attack Akbar, it almost seems as if it becomes entertainment for the people there. They are excited and happy because they had never seen their armies before. The young boy was even excited, even though Akbar was sure to be destroyed. What inspired you to write that part of THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN?

Paulo Coelho: The danger exists exactly in the things that we have not experienced before. There were some difficult moments in Brazil, like the military dictatorship -- people were excited, and then they had to pay a very expensive price for that.

Moderator from We are pleased and honored that you could join us this evening to discuss THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN. We hope you will come back. Any final comments for your online fans?

Paulo Coelho: I thank you all for giving me the possibility of talking to my readers in America. One of the questions was about going to the U.S.; so, I was in the U.S. for this past hour. It was a great pleasure. And my final message isWHO DARES WINS. Love from Brazil, PAULO

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Reading Group Guide

SummaryWhen the novel begins, the year is 870 B.C., and the prophet Elijah is in his early twenties and fleeing for his life. His death has been ordered by the beautiful but implacable Jezebel, wife of Israel's King Ahab. His "crime": denouncing the false gods that Jezebel has brought from her native Phoenicia, known to the Hebrews as Lebanon. Through an angel, God orders Elijah to make the arduous journey across the desert and take refuge in the Phoenician city of Zarephath, which its inhabitants call Akbar. There, Elijah is befriended by a widow, older than him, who offers him lodging with her and her young son. Like her countrymen, she is a worshipper of Baal, who is said to reside with the other gods at the fogshrouded summit of the Fifth Mountain. Still, she and the Israelite gradually form a warm bond, though neither dare voice their feelings. But events conspire against Elijah. When the woman's son becomes ill and dies, the blame falls on Elijah, who is accused of having brought misfortune with him. Taken before the High Priest of Akbar, he is condemned to die on the Fifth Mountain, from which no man returns. There, the priest declares, either he will be consumed by the fire from heaven or, should the gods choose not to sully their hands with him, upon his descent he will be beheaded in the city square. On the Fifth Mountain, an angel of God directs him to descend and, through God's power, restore the boy to life. The people of Akbar, interpreting the miracle as a sign of the gods' favor, hail the Israelite as a sage. Soon he is settling disputes among the townspeople and becomes an adviser to the governor, evoking the wrath of thehigh priest. As his feelings for the widow and her son grow, Elijah is torn between an earthly love he has never known and the desire to return to Israel and remove Jezebel from the throne, destroying idolatry and restoring the worship of the One God. But he must remain in Akbar until the Lord orders him to depart. Phoenicia, the commercial center of the Mediterranean at this time, has a merchant fleet that trades throughout the known world. But the country's wealth draws the covetous attention of the Assyrians, who begin gathering a force to conquer the coastal cities of Sidon and Tyre -- and Akbar lies strategically in the advancing army's path. Soon Elijah finds himself at the center of a military and political maelstrom that challenges his faith and forces him to confront the unavoidable. Out of the tragedy that emerges, Elijah learns lessons that are applicable to all of humankind and are as timeless as the desert sands and the mountains that gaze silently down on the ashes of Akbar. In a resolution that resonates vividly for modem men and women, he wrests from the unavoidable a new beginning, an opportunity to give meaning to tragedy and direction to a shattered life. Questions for Discussion
  • The Fifth Mountain and The Alchemist share the theme of a quest, a journey that takes the main character far from his own country. In what ways does Santiago's search in The Alchemist differ from Elijah's in The Fifth Mountain? In what ways are the two quests similar?
  • Angels play an important part in The Fifth Mountain, whether the angel of God or Elijah's personal guardian angel. Today, many people profess to believe in the existence of angels. What forces may contribute to the resurgence of belief in angels in the last years of the 20th century?
  • A major theme of The Fifth Mountain is the crucial role of the development of the alphabet as a conveyor of information easily disseminated. Why was the "invention of Byblos" such an essential element of civilization? How did the Greek and Roman alphabets, unlike previous forms of writing such as hieroglyphics and cuneiform, make literacy accessible to all?
  • "Sometimes," Elijah says, "it [is] necessary to struggle with God." Is this how most believers -- Christian, Jewish, and Muslim -- feel? What Scriptural authority can be cited to sustain such a position? What arguments support the opposing view -- that one should always submit to the "will of God"?
  • Everything has its reason for being, the angel tells Elijah. He need only distinguish the temporary from the lasting: the unavoidable is temporary; the lessons of the unavoidable are lasting. To what extent does this apply to everyday life? Has the complexity of late 20th century existence rendered this advice obsolete? Or has the essential truth of this observation remained valid for thousands of years?
  • "All life's battle teach us something, even those we lose, Elijah tells the young boy. In what way is this demonstrated in The Fifth Mountain? Which battles does he lose and which does he win? Is the most significant battle in the novel a literal or a spiritual one?
  • Elijah is sometimes torn between the desire to serve God and the needs of those he has come to love. He attempts to return to Israel, only to find his way blocked by an angel with a flaming sword. Is it unusual to find the dictates of God in conflict with worthy human goals? Would most people today, faced with such contradictory demands, experience the conflicts that Elijah suffered?
  • In the rebuilding of Akbar, Elijah enlists the aid of women, the old, the very young -- those who could not flee the destroyed city. In so doing, he discovers a resource that had never been utilized. What does he mean when he says, "Today we know that the old, the widows, the orphans also departed. They left in their place a band of youths of every age..."?
  • Many cultures, both ancient and contemporary, have believed that knowing the true name of a person or thing gives one mastery over it. What is the significance of Elijahs telling the survivors of Akbar to choose new names for themselves? In the end, does he live up to his own chosen name -- Liberation?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    Excellent Start!!

    Just started reading the book and it's been a great book to read. Big fan of Coelho, the many themes that accommpany his books makes for great reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    I could not finish this book The author stumbles around telling

    I could not finish this book The author stumbles around telling a story that is better told in the Bible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012


    The story ties in with early Christianity, but there's always a twist to the story, that doesn't turn up until the end! Extremely good reading! Hard to put down one of his books! You'll want to read it straight through until the end! My very favorite is "Aleph!"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    Really great book

    Teaches that sometimes tragedy happens so that we can grow and learn to rebuild.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012


    An easy read with a great story, both explicitly and underlying.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    Life changing.

    Top 3 favorite book of all time.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted June 10, 2011


    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2005

    Follow your dream

    Another reminder that we have to follow our dream. That we constantly have to move forward, that we have to challange ourselves not settle for what we have, or live in the past. Most important, it is a reminder that we have to LIVE.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    Grand book, with edge of your seat reading!!!

    This is a book with a boy named Elijah. Elijah is a boy that is 23 years old, he is a worshiping good lived man. He lives in Israel at a time when a new leader has taken over and is forcing everyone to worship the god Baal. Anyone who does not worship will be killed. Elijah escapes and listens to the gods as to where he is to go. The gods help him in his journey as he tries to stay faithful to the lord. He ends up in a city called Akbar. He asks a woman if he can live with her. She lets him and everything is going fine, then the boy all of a sudden dies in his sleep. The woman and the town blame this on Elijah because he is a foreigner. He is sentenced to climb the Fifth Mountain and then recieve his fate. He sees his angel and it tells Elijah what to do to bring the boy back to life. Elijah saves the boys life and the rest of the town wants him to help them and their problems. Everything is going good until an Assyrian army camped outside Akbar's walls. All they wanted to do was pass through, but the Governor of Akbar wouldn't let them. The Assyrians attacked and destroyed the city. Elijah survived and started to live with a small Shepard family outside the town. He and the woman's son helped rebuild the city. Elijah was named the govenor of the city but left Akbar when the gods told him to go back to Israel. After he arrived there he divided the people up in two groups, those who worshiped Baal and those who worshiped the lord. He executed those who betrayed the lord and they lived their live. Then when the civil war broke out Elijah ran to the Fifth Mountain and spent the rest of his life there. This story is set in two places, first Israel where Elijah lives, then in a city named Akbar. Some good things that the author did were describing every detail very well, and how everyone felt and what everyone did. The people that would like the book would be people who like interesting stories with gods and foreign nations. I think this book was a good book compared to other foreign books and different county's storys. This book to the Alchemist wasn't as good, this did not have as much adventure or exciting twists as did the Alchemist. I feel that this book was a good book with interesting with very well detailed elements. The conclusion was very well written, it was unexpected and was a nice ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2002

    Must Read

    Very beuatifully written with sense of a misterious beauty this book takes you to some other, to us unexperienced, world where everything is possible. I would recomend this book to everyone who loves a good story and history as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2000

    Coelho brings the Scripture Vibrantly to life...

    Brazilian author brings this story of the ninth century prophet, Elijah, to life with his use of characters and a wonderful setting, the ancient city of Akbar. The prophet's emotions and frustration with being a 'chosen one' come through in a way that the Bible cannot convey. Who Knew that scripture could be so COOL!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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