Saturday, June 29, 2013

La Quinta Montaña (The Fifth Mountain) by Paulo Coelho (♦♦♦♦)

Year 870 B.C.

King Ajab of Israel had married a Phoenician princess named Jezebel, who had convinced the king to replace the adoration of the only God the Jewish people revered and whose laws they followed for the Phoenician god Baal. A messenger of the Lord appeared to prophet Elijah to convey the message to the king that it wouldn’t rain in Israel while Baal was adored, which prompted Jezebel to order the immediate conversion of Israelite prophets to Baal or face the death penalty. Elijah was the only prophet who couldn’t choose; he was sentenced to death.

Elijah escaped to Sarepta, a Phoenician city whose inhabitants called Akbar, and lived with a widow and her son until Akbar fell as result of a battle with the Assirian army. It was then that, disappointed and angry with the God he had served and whose orders he had followed without questions, Elijah chose to fight God and rebuild the city that He had allowed to be destroyed, not comprehending that he was doing God’s will.

I love this book. I read and re-read it for many years and then I read it again with the purpose of reviewing it. Paulo Coelho is also the author of El Alquimista (The Alchemist), which I reviewed not long ago. If I found El Alquimista profound, La Quinta Montaña is even more so. El Alquimista covers themes of fate and destiny and the power of everyone to follow his or her dreams. In La Quinta Montaña the themes are the inevitability of certain events in our lives and the lessons we take from them. Also, how we act in those moments of inevitability shape our future and the baggage we choose to carry from our pasts.

I believe La Quinta Montaña to be a superior book to El Alquimista and it’s a pity it hasn’t found the fame of its counterpart. La Quinta Montaña is a book that deserves to be read again and again, and treasured for the power of its message and its philosophical implications.

If you ever asked questions to the void such as “why me?”, this book can provide the answers you’re looking for. Based on a Bible passage, La Quinta Montaña may be appreciated by those with deep religious roots and even those with more secular life views. Its message is as universal as it is eternal.

Favorite quotes:

  “—Todo hombre tiene derecho a dudar de su tarea y a abandonarla de vez en cuando; lo único que no puede hacer es olvidarla. Quien no duda de sí mismo es indigno, porque confía ciegamente en su capacidad y peca por orgullo. Bendito sea aquel que pasa por momentos de indecisión.” Page 59

  “El sacerdote sabía que de todas las armas de destrucción que el hombre fue capaz de inventar, la más terrible, la más poderosa, era la palabra. Los puñales y las lanzas dejaban vestigios de sangre; las flechas podían ser vistas a distancia, los venenos terminaban por ser detectados y evitados. Pero la palabra conseguía destruir sin dejar rastro…” Page 65-66

  “El sacerdote rió.”
 --Es decir, que en tu opinión, el mismo dios que hizo la tempestad, hizo también el trigo, aunque sean cosas completamente diferentes.
  --¿Ves la Quinta Montaña?—preguntó Elías--. De cada lado que mires te parecerá diferente, aunque sea la misma montaña. Así sucede con todo cuanto fue creado: muchas caras del mismo Dios.” Page 72

“—Todas las batallas en la vida sirven para enseñarnos algo, inclusive aquellas que perdemos.” Page 125

“—No sabes lo que dices—respondió el ángel.
  No existe la tragedia, sino lo inevitable. Todo tiene su razón de ser: sólo necesitas saber distinguir lo que es pasajero de lo que es definitivo.
  --¿Qué es lo pasajero?—preguntó Elías.
  --Lo inevitable.
  --¿Y lo definitivo?
  --Las lecciones de lo inevitable.
  Diciendo esto, el ángel se alejó.” Page 133

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