BOOK REVIEW: THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN

TITLE: The Fifth Mountain

AUTHOR: Paulo Coelho

REVIEWER: Vera Omwocha

RATING: 2.5

I started reading this one with high expectations and because my girl, Munira Hussein, recommended it and gave me her copy. (She swears by Coelho’s books)

It follows the story of Elijah, the prophet. Elijah flees his country, Israel, after Jezebel –King Ahab’s wife – orders for the execution of prophets who refuse to worship Baal. Under the guidance of the Angel of the Lord, he lands in Zeraphath, where he meets a young widow and her son.

He falls in love with the widow who takes her in but she dies when the city of Zerapath (which the natives call Akbar) is destroyed. When the woman he loves dies, Elijah disobeys God and chooses to follow his own path. He’s in combat with Himself and with God. I didn’t quite seem to grasp the point in wrestling with God (as does Jacob) and that sometimes, God wishes we’d ‘fight back’ than just submit to His will.

It didn’t pull me in and the characters didn’t help; they’re too far at a distance. Elijah, the main character is boringly indecisive, even though there’s a reason for that;

“Every man hath the right to doubt his task, and to forsake it from time to time; but what he must not do is forget it. Whoever doubteth not himself is unworthy– for in his unquestioning belief in his ability, he commiteth the sin of pride. Blessed are they who go through moments of indecision.” 

I almost quit reading but Munira threatened to abandon me :-). But I’m glad I finished, if not for it’s own sake, for these profound statements; 

 “Everything that could have happened but did not is carried away with the wind and leaves no trace.”

 “The Lord often has his prophets climb mountains to converse with Him. I always wondered why He did that, and now I know the answer: when we are on high, we can see everything else as small. Our glory and sadness lose their importance. Whatever we conquered or lost remains there below. From the heights of the mountain, you see how large the world is, and how wide its horizons.” 

“There is no tragedy, only the unavoidable. Everything has its reason for being: you only need to distinguish what is temporary from what is lasting.” 

“At this moment, many people have stopped living. They do not become angry, nor cry out; they merely wait for time to pass. They did not accept the challenges of life, so life no longer challenges them.” 

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires” 

“Take advantage of the chance that tragedy has given you; not everyone is capable of doing so.”

***

The rest like, “…and I discovered something: the meaning of my life was whatever I wanted it to be.”  are cliche. Surely you’ve heard about that.

But that’s me; you might possibly have a different opinion.

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