A WARRIOR’S LIFE: A Biography of Paul Coelho. Fernando Morais/Harper Collins, £18.99.

AN alchemist of words, Coelho has influenced millions with his wisdom, insight and spirituality.

Yet his knowledge has been earned the hard way.

His teenage years in Rio De Janeiro were defined by his struggle for independence, his beliefs through experimentation with drugs and black magic, while his political and artistic leanings landed him in the dungeons of Brazil’s military dictatorship.

But tempestuous early years gave way to a calm inner peace, inspired his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and ultimately led to his writing of the best-selling The Pilgrimage and a host of other influential works.

This is a fascinating insight into one of the most read and least known writers.

CHRIS BURGESS