Angels Brought me Here
(A Book Review of Paulo Coelho’s The Valkyries)
In the Author’s Note at the back of this book Paulo Coelho said: “Anyone who has read The Valkyries, will know that this book is very different from The Pilgrimage, The Alchemist and Brida” — true enough it is.
The Valkyries sets off in Brazil when Paulo’s Master, J., gives him (yet another) a task: “to break the curse” by speaking with his angels. One week later, he and his wife Christina are on the road to the starkly beautiful yet dangerous Mojave Desert to seek “contacts,” people that will help and guide him on a forty day quest to look for the Valkyries, leather clad warrior women who cruise around the desert on motorcycle that will show Paulo, and Christina as well, how to converse with their angels.
I believe the book started out quite strong and, to be honest with you, I was moved by the central question it relates to the reader: “Why do we destroy the things we love most?” But as I progress it just become trudging reading for me. Half way through the book I’m still clueless how communicating with angels will truly help Paulo on his spiritual search — and I still am puzzled over it after closing the book. I was taken aback that what the author’s been trying to say can all be just condensed into a simple message in the epilogue of the book.
The main thing why this book just didn’t really work for me is that it lacked the fabulist magic of The Alchemist and failed to capture the simple spiritual teachings that The Pilgrimage presented. It also seems to me that Coelho talks down to his reader, well not actually him, but this one concerns the Valkyries whose principles I find too preachy and overtly one-dimensional that it all unsuccessfully made an impression to me.
Even so, The Valkyries retains some of the quintessential Coelho elements and has its share of rosy moments: one that really made an impact to me was when Chris learns “to look at the horizon.” This for me works as a literal truth and a striking metaphor. A truth as I consider it a rare ability to live in the present, in the now all the while striving to strike a balance in a world that shouts for our constant attention; a metaphor in that it is much harder to attain a broad perspective of one’s life and sense of self. One of the things I consider the book’s strong point is that we encounter a different Coelho in its pages as we see him reveal details on his private life, on his almost failing marriage and in the process makes himself vulnerable, exposed to the judgment of others. As it is, the book is also peppered with nuggets of wisdom here and there, some of which I quote below:
“Someone once said that the Earth produces enough to satisfy needs, but not enough to satisfy greed.”
“Faith is a difficult conquest, and it requires daily combat in order to be maintained.”
“That’s what infatuation is: the creation of an image of someone, with out advising that someone as to what the image is.”
I have faith in The Valkyries core message of “letting go of the past and believing in the future” in that I’m looking beyond this one and hopefully Paulo Coelho’s upcoming book that I’ll read soon will be none such as this.
Translated by Allan Clarke
Published by Harper Torch
(Mass Market Paperback, First International printing, June 2004)
Started: December 27, 2010
Finished: December 29, 2010