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Arrow of God (The African Trilogy, #3)
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Arrow of God

(The African Trilogy #3)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  4,387 ratings  ·  337 reviews
Set in the Igbo heartland of eastern Nigeria, one of Africa's best-known writers describes the conflict between old and new in its most poignant aspect: the personal struggle between father and son.

Ezeulu, the headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro. But his authority is increasingly under threat—from rivals within his tribe, fro
Paperback, 230 pages
Published January 1st 1989 by Anchor Books (first published 1964)
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Lori Interesting depiction of the impact that arrival of Christianity had on the indigenous religion of a fictional African region. The ending leaves you…moreInteresting depiction of the impact that arrival of Christianity had on the indigenous religion of a fictional African region. The ending leaves you wondering if perhaps the message was always One God. (less)

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3.81  · 
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 ·  4,387 ratings  ·  337 reviews

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Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book the best among Achebe’s African Trilogy. It’s a novel that chronicles Igbo tribal life in the 1920’s, fracturing under its own human frailties and prejudices, and stoked into decline by the British colonial incursion.

Unlike in Things Fall Apart, there is no glossary of local words and customs, and yet there is a lot of local flavour here: poetry, quotes, customs and festivals described in elaborate detail. I felt as if Achebe was trying to write the African novel in English, un
Once more, Achebe has succeeded in writing a story that had me living in a very different world for a while. Arrow of God is not about the delightful (not!) Okonkwo nor the honest and upright (not!) Obi Okonkwo. Instead, Achebe has told the story of a completely different family, in no way related to the Okonkwos (can we say that?). It is the story of a completely different tribe with different customs and rituals.

Ezeulu is the chief priest of Ulu, a god that binds six villages together. He take
Sidharth Vardhan
Read it because it was listed as one of Adichie's favourite books.

The story is somewhat like 'Things Fall Apart' in that it narrates a story of the rise and, later, fall of a man due to values changing under a challenge from colonial rule - only this time it was a religious leader, instead of a warrior/farmer.

The reading experience was greatly enhanced from my having read Carl Jung's 'Man and His Symbols'. To begin with, Jung had much to say about the masks and their impact on personality and th
Shuhan Rizwan
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Better than 'Things fall apart' in some aspects. Includes some beautifully crafted passages.
Feb 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Madeline by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I had a fiendishly difficult time with this book, which I found odd because Things Fall Apart was like reading water, and even A Man of the People was engaging and straightforward. But although I loved what Achebe did in Arrow of God, I had a really hard time actually reading the damn thing. I'm pretty sure that the fault was with me - I don't know enough about the Igbo, I find proverbs irritating, my brain is lately in other places - because I could sense some of the power of the novel, but was ...more
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookworms
Arrow of God (1964)
Chinua Achebe

Last summer I read Things Fall Apart which is the first of a trilogy by C. Achebe. Arrow of God is the third. I literally couldn’t put it down. Again, this is a novel about the struggle between old ways and new; tradition and change. It’s set in the 1920s. Here too a son is ‘sacrificed’ and sent to the White man’s school/church to learn his language and ways.

Arrow of God may essentially be the story of a chief priest, his wives and children and the patterns of ev
Jack Kruse
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was first struck by how funny this novel was. I guffawed several times while reading it. It takes a remarkable writer to do this with humor, especially across cultures.
I thought this work illustrated well the role of religion in society. For the Igbo there was no separation of religion from society--they were one and the same. It's perhaps fitting that while the administration doesn't quite get this (Clarke doesn't even understand that a Chief Priest is not the same as a medicine man) , the mi
Ben Dutton
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is hard to like at times. Achebe is very unflattering to women.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is a forbidding sadness throughout this book. The English are trying to implement their divide and conquer strategy to reinforce their power and control over the locals. Meanwhile Ezeulu the local Chief Priest tries to resist but is also the victim of his own culture and the prejudices between people and villages. There is no surprise as to which side wins.
There was surprisingly a fair bit of humour in this book. As well as some beautiful prose, Igbo stories and beliefs and of course plent
Blaine DeSantis
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was a real chore for me - I have previously read Things Fall Apart and thought it was wonderful and so when my sons African Literature class was reading this book I decided to read along with the last volume of Achebe's trilogy.
It really is a lot of the same thing - the clash of traditional Nigerian culture with the British Colonial culture. The edition that I read did not have a glossary nor any sort of family charts and so it was extremely difficult to figure out who was who and some
Apphia Barton
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved Things Fall Apart and I thought I would love this too. Reading Arrow of God felt like trodding an interminable journey. Later on I realised that my peeve was mainly with the format and layout of the copy I used than the content of the novel.

Intriguing message(s) and themes - religion, community, change, leadership, revenge, tradition, familial relationships. Achebe develops characters and unfolds the plot of a story really well but parts of this novel felt disjointed and drawn out.

This year I decided to re-read some of my favorites and what I consider classics. I re-read Things Fall Apart, and in doing so I discovered that this book was a part of a trilogy, of course I had to read the entire series.
Arrow of God felt a bit underwhelming for me, it also felt very repetitive at times. It was as if I was reading a lesser version of Things Fall Apart. I had a hard time remembering the characters or differentiating them.
Overall this book felt very flat for me.
Deogratias Rweyemamu
Chinua Achebe makes us Africans proud.

With limited African literature, and writers to boot, I always relish coming across a good book with African narrative. I believe there are many stories that remain untold from our past since we had limited means to pass on these stories.

Chinua Achebe's book has touched on the culture, customs, beliefs of native Nigerian people and how their stories were intertwined with the arrival of "white men" in early 20th century. On hindsight, some of the customs woul
Henry Ozogula
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Literature can often puzzle and startle one, including African literature - the way we receive and criticise books. A good example is Ghana's world class writer, Ayi Kwei Armah; the literary world keeps on praising him and his first novel, The beautyful ones are not yet born. Yet Armah was a young man, still developing, when the book came out, and critics did not seem to care about his subsequent, better works over the decades. This seems to be the case too with Achebe, whose first novel, Things
It's somehow ironic how Achebe's personal favorite is by far my least favorite book in the trilogy. Arrow of God is definitely the most ambitious of the three, being by far the longest and the one deepest immersed into local culture and religious beliefs.
“I have traveled in Olu and I Jahve traveled in Igbo, and I can tell you that there is no escape from the white man. He has come.”
Personally, I didn't get much out of it. I didn't connect to any of the characters, found the plot incredibly con
This is the final book in Nigerian author Chinua Achebe's African Trilogy. I have read the first two, Things Fall Apart and No Longer At Ease. All three novels do a remarkable job of showing the culture clash of an indigenous people with their colonial invaders. In fact, Achebe is considered the originator of the genre in Africa.

This one spotlights the religious aspect. Ezeulu is the Chief Priest of Ulu, god of six Ibo villages in Eastern Nigeria in the second decade of the 20th century. The Br
Jan 17, 2010 rated it liked it
The final book in Achebe's African trilogy is the story of Ezeulu, the high priest of his clan, the members of whom live in five villages in Nigeria. Villages and clans have their own self-created gods, who rise and fall over time, depending on the successes or failures of the clan and villages.

Set in an unspecified time, probably early 20th century, Ezeulu is protector of the traditional ways and spirtual life of the villages, as the influence of the British rulers continue to encroach, transf
Madi ~☆TheBookNerdDiaries☆~
Nope. Just nope.

I think I've seen this book regarded as a great work of literature and the author as an amazing one. To both, I STRONGLY disagree.

I hated this book and used an audiobook to make progress and a print copy to track that progress. Using the audiobook was probably the only way I could have ever gotten through this one. It was boring as h-e-double-hockey-sticks. Where was the plot? Where was the action? Characters with substance? Personalities? Yeah, this book ain't got none of that.
Sidney Davis
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: igbonomics
This novel gives an African perspective on the colonial imposition of Western culture upon African/Igbo culture and tradition. It is a story that gives voice to the European influence and voice to the African response to it. It is a narrative that shows how this was done and the effects and consequences of the encounter. The characters of the novel are very engaging and come alive from the pen of Achebe. If you liked Things Fall Apart, then you will like the Arrow of God.
Monster Longe
May 14, 2009 rated it liked it
It was alright. The story-telling could have been better, for I felt that we were introduced to a lot of characters that had zero impact on the telling of the story, so that takes away a lot of the luster. Plus, the conclusion and the way the story wrapped up was just "eh, I read all of this for it to end like this?". I've heard all this regard for Chinua Achebe, but this was a bad introduction to his work.
Dec 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
I liked this one less than Things Fall Apart and again, I dislike his writing style.
Amaka Azie
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a delightful book. I enjoyed it a lot. A story about Ezeulu a chief priest of Ulu that bound six villages in eastern Nigeria during colonial times. He took his priesthood seriously but the new religion (Christianity) became a challenge.
Well written with beautiful poetic proverbs that captivated me. I can’t believe how much more I am now enjoying these books I read with less enthusiasm as a child. Sometimes it’s only in re-reading a book that one can appreciate the beauty of that book. I de
Set in the early 1900's, Achebe describes the life of six villages through the eyes of their high priest Ezeulu. I don't really know what to say about this except it is really, really good. One could argue that it's a bit subtle, rambling sometimes, but all events lead masterfully up to the great crescendo, where the white man geniously takes over, not only because of his inherent evil ways but all actions seem to collude. The inner doubts of Ezeulu, his relationships with his family and friends ...more
Nicole Aziz
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
eh, I feel like I had these expectations for this book that just weren’t met. there was so much going on and it took away from the main plot of the Christian vs Igbo “way of life”. I’m a lil disappointed :/ there was potential but I just didn’t have a great time reading it
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was already my favorite of the trilogy and then on the final page came this...that no man however great was greater than his people.....
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So. Dull. (But insightful from an academic point?)
Momina Masood
Your student of postcolonialism can have a field day with this.
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-list-books
It's about 15 years late, but we just got round to watching the Sopranos after all these years. Bizarrely, this was good companion viewing for reading Arrow of God. In both we have aging Patriarchs coming to terms with their own mortality, while trying to bring up their families traditionally in the face of a rapidly changing world. Tony is head of one of the five families, while Ezuela is the Chief Priest of the Six Villages. People all around them are disregarding their heritage, welcoming the ...more
Sami Tunji
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God depicts the disintegration of an African society. This disintegration provides a crack in the wall that becomes a house for the lizard of foreign religion and culture. There is a conflict between the old and new, between past and present, and between native and foreign; the novel revolves around this conflict.
However, the novel does not just present the tragic fall of a man, who is an arrow of god (or God), it is also the tragic fall of an (or the) African god. It is
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Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religion

Other books in the series

The African Trilogy (3 books)
  • Things Fall Apart
  • No Longer at Ease
“What kind of power was it if everybody knew that it would never be used? Better to say that it was not there, that it was no more than the power in the anus of the proud dog who tried to put out a furnace with his puny fart.... He turned the yam with a stick.” 7 likes
“villages that their leaders came together to save themselves.” 4 likes
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