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Arrow of God (1964)

by Chinua Achebe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: African Trilogy (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2342214,806 (3.69)130
Ezeulu, headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro. But he is beginning to find his authority increasingly under threat - from his rivals in the tribe, from those in the white government and even from his own family. Yet he still feels he must be untouchable - surely he is an arrow in the bow of his God?… (more)
  1. 10
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (sparemethecensor)
  2. 01
    Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two books about old Africans losing their culture. The Achebe is literary, the Resnick science fiction.
  3. 02
    Evolution's Shore by Ian McDonald (wosret)

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» See also 130 mentions

English (21)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
One of his “African” trilogy (the second book of the three) and certainly the most “African” of the three (by which, I think I should say, I mean rural/tribally oriented. Not about city life, "modernity" in any way, or even colonialism, except tangentially). A great story, beautifully told. Rather than rely upon my dwindling intellectual resources, I’ll cheat and use another summary (that I think is particularly well done): “The novel is a meditation on the nature, uses, and responsibility of power and leadership. Ezeulu finds that his authority is increasingly under threat from rivals within his nation and functionaries of the newly established British colonial government. Yet he sees himself as untouchable. He is forced, with tragic consequences, to reconcile conflicting impulses in his own nature—a need to serve the protecting deity of his Umuaro people; a desire to retain control over their religious observances; and a need to gain increased personal power by pushing his authority to the limits. He ultimately fails as he leads his people to their own destruction, and consequently, his personal tragedy arises.” ( )
  Gypsy_Boy | Aug 26, 2023 |
Reason read: Reading 1001, July botm. ANC - read Chinua Achebe, Nigerian author.

This is the second book of the chronology. Yes, the last written but set in time between the first and last. The main character is Ezeulu, the chief priest of several Igbo villages in colonial Nigeria, who confronts colonial powers and Christian missionaries in the 1920s. The title is fitting as this is a book about a person/event that shows the will of God. The main theme; the conflict between the traditional beliefs and religions of the Nigerians and the foreign values introduced by the Europeans, including Christianity. And the conflicts of the novel revolve around the struggle between continuity and change.

I enjoyed this and found it not hard to read. Change occurs whether we like it and who is say if the forces that bring change aren't the "arrow of God". ( )
  Kristelh | Jul 9, 2023 |
This is the third and longest of Achebe's trilogy, but set chronologically between the other two (Things Fall Apart, and No Longer at Ease, respectively). Like his first book, Things Fall Apart, it deals with the ongoing alterations of life and individual power in a small group of West African villages after the arrival and gradual consolidation of colonial rule. In places, I found the African details hard to follow owing to my own unfamiliarity with the variety of names and traditions, and the relevance of all the narrative details. I most liked the nuanced account of interpersonal relationships within and between the African and European cultures, and the complex and difficult-to-predict circumstances that led to the downfall of the principal character. ( )
1 vote sfj2 | Jul 2, 2022 |
The novel centres around Ezeulu, a chief priest who acts as god's representative to the Umauro village. What makes Ezeulu's mission different from that of his ancestors is the presence of the white man and his religion, Christianity. One of the themes running through the novel the abandonment of traditional beliefs by the natives and embracing that of the white man. The village gradually stops trusting their priest. Achebe clearly shows how it was done for purely pragmatic reasons at first, and not spiritual ones, in attempt to clear up the misconception that natives were irrational and easily fooled, since that's how colonial accounts usually depict them.

The issue of colonial policy is also important and how the British administration managed the different societies that coexisted in the Nigerian colony (indirect rule).

The novel is very well written. It is a realistic novel that does not leave the reader indifferent. Although Things Fall Apart is considered Achebe's best novel, I prefer Arrow of God for its well-built characters and the more detailed and rich account of the era Achebe was describing (the Igbo village in Nigeria under British colonial rule)
( )
  meddz | Jun 11, 2021 |
Just finished [Arrow of God] which follows [Things Fall Apart] by [[Chinua Achebe]]. The former, of course, is his masterwork, a true classic. [Arrow of God] doesn't quite reach the same level but I think it's a great novel nonetheless. It presents the encroachment of British colonialism on two small Igbo villages. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Dec 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chinua Achebeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dicker, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Honke, GudrunTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeping, CharlesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werk, Jan Kees van deAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the Memory of my Father

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This was the third nightfall since he began to look for signs of the new moon.
Whenever people have asked me which among my novels is my favourite I have always evaded a direct answer, being strongly of the mind that in sheer invidiousness that question is fully comparable to asking a man to list his children in the order in which he loves them. (Preface to the Second Edition)
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Ezeulu, headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro. But he is beginning to find his authority increasingly under threat - from his rivals in the tribe, from those in the white government and even from his own family. Yet he still feels he must be untouchable - surely he is an arrow in the bow of his God?

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Average: (3.69)
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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