Manual of the Warrior of Light
Paulo Coelho; Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Paulo Coelho is well known for his inspirational stories, which include The Alchemist, in which a young boy learns to live his dreams, The Fifth Mountain, which teaches how faith and love can overcome suffering, and Veronica Decides to Die, in which a woman on the point of death discovers the emotions and experiences she has shied away from before. Manual of the Warrior of Light is different from all of Coelho's previous books in that it teaches its lessons overtly. Though there is a framing story of how the manual came to be written, most of the book is a succession of short passages describing how a warrior of light behaves: 'a warrior of light is never cowardly', 'a warrior of light knows that everyone is afraid of everyone else', 'a warrior of light always has a second chance in life'. Coelho's writing is always simple and direct, expanding on each opening statement with explanations and examples. He also quotes from other inspiring authors, such as John Bunyan and Chuan Tzu. The warrior's journey is intensely spiritual with an emphasis on intuition over intellect; Coelho certainly does not show the struggle as being easy. In the Epilogue he admits that much of the wisdom in the book is contradictory but explains that the warrior of light will understand through his own 'Good Fight' which strategies to follow. Letting go and accepting the contradictions is what is important. There is a strongly Christian slant to Coelho's teachings but also a universal spiritual message, which draws from Eastern philosophies. Devotees of Coelho's books will welcome this distillation of his teachings into a simple manual, which could provide the basis for daily meditations. Those new to Coelho's work will find this a useful introduction, which could lead on to the enjoyment of his other books.