The Fifth Mountain
“A stunning novel in the tradition of the highly acclaimed "The Alchemist, " this is Coelho's daring retelling of the prophet Elijah. During the chaos of the ninth century B.C., Jezebel, wife to Israel's ruler, orders the execution of all prophets who refuse to worship the pagan god Baal. The young prophet Elijah, commanded by an angel of God to flee Israel, seeks safety in the land of Zarephath, where he unexpectedly finds true love with a young widow. But this new-found rapture is to be cut short, and Elijah sees all of his hopes and dreams irrevocably erased. What follows is sure to be viewed as Coelho's literary milestone: the 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.
Inspired by a circumstance that forever altered Coelho's own life, "The Fifth Mountain" is a testament to the truth that tragedy in life should not be considered a punishment but a challenge of the spirit. Gorgeous in its narrative and unforgettable in its prose, "The Fifth Mountain" teaches without being sanctimonious. This is a timeless story for the ages, a tale of the past that resonates powerfully for today's readers.”
Plot and Story:
Elijah could hear angels speak ever since he was a child. But the people around him thwarted his words, laughing it off, considering it just the active imagination of a child. Then he himself stopped hearing it, swayed by what people said. He chose not to follow his destiny, refused to pay heed to the inner wirings of his heart, and became a carpenter. But no one could escape one’s destiny. The angel appeared again years later, when the princess of Sidon was leading a massacre of Prophets in Israel, and imposing on the people to pray to the Phoenician gods instead of their One God.
The angel helped him flee and escape the massacre. He survived months in the desert receiving help from a raven sent by the angel. He was instructed to go to Akbar and reside in a widow’s land. He did what the Lord asked of him. Little did he know of the misfortunes and miracles god had designed in his name. He saw death of a young soul, the distrust of the town folks, the rage of the inhabitants of Akbar, political manipulations, and greed. He watched miracles happen, the breaking of an entire city in the war with the Assyrians, and its making once again from the ruins.
“But there Elijah stood, carrying out what had been demanded of him, bearing within him the weight of the war to come, the massacre of the prophets by Jezebel, the death by stoning of the Assyrian general, his fear of loving a woman of Akbar. The Lord had given him a gift, and he did not know what to do with it.”
Witnessing an invasion, watching a city being burnt down to char, fleeing in fear, returning to rebuilt the city, finding one’s way to peace – Elijah discovered himself to be greater than he ever believed to be. His epic journey is filled with so much inspiration. Tragedy is god’s challenge. Accept the challenge and take up the opportunity that only tragedy can provide.
When Elijah finally left for Israel, he had with him the remembrance of the destruction of Akbar at the hands of the Assyrians, and its rebuild from crumble. He had discovered his strengths through the days of struggle, and had come to know all that he was but never believed to be true. He had climbed the Fifth Mountain and was not burnt by the fire from the heavens. He was almost condemned to death for being a cursed foreigner. He had seen his only love being burnt to death.
This is the story of a journey. Escaping from the homeland to return to it.
Today we take literacy for granted. Being able to read the written word is no big feat. Mastering two languages in a lifetime common, and nothing out of the ordinary. But the book tells of a time in Lebanon, and Israel, when people had to think twice before learning to write in a script that symbolized their language. They had to consider their religion and Gods. Would learning it disturb the working of the universe? Would the Gods get angry? Words were considered a privilege of the prophets not of the ordinary countrymen. Would it be violating their limits as being mere human beings going against the design of the almighty? Words carried mysteries and ancient secrets- knowledge. What if learning them, unscrupulous people, would unknowingly play a part in changing the universe as it is?
This surprised me and made me count my blessings.
Linking the post to Day Three of #UBC , and #DailyChatter.