Arrow of God

Arrow of God

by Chinua Achebe


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The second novel in Chinua Achebe’s masterful African trilogy, following Things Fall Apart and preceding No Longer at Ease
When Things Fall Apart ends, colonial rule has been introduced to Umuofia, and the character of the nation, its values, freedoms, religious and socio-political foundations have substantially and irrevocably been altered. Arrow of God, the second novel in Chinua Achebe’s The African Trilogy, moves the historical narrative forward. This time, the action revolves around Ezeulu, the headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, which is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro. 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. Arrow of God is an unforgettable portrayal of the loss of faith, and the downfall of a man in a society forever altered by colonialism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385014809
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/1989
Series: Anchor Literary Library Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 112,479
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.59(d)
Lexile: 880L (what's this?)

About the Author

Chinua Achebe (1930–2013) was born in Nigeria. Widely considered to be the father of modern African literature, he is best known for his masterful African Trilogy, consisting of Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, and No Longer at Ease. The trilogy tells the story of a single Nigerian community over three generations from first colonial contact to urban migration and the breakdown of traditional cultures. He is also the author of Anthills of the SavannahA Man of the PeopleGirls at War and Other StoriesHome and ExileHopes and ImpedimentsCollected PoemsThe Education of a British-Protected ChildChike and the River, and There Was a Country. He was the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University and, for more than fifteen years, was the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. Achebe was the recipient of the Nigerian National Merit Award, Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement. In 2007, Achebe was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement.

What People are Saying About This

Margaret Atwood

Chinua Achebe is a magical writer -- one of the greatest of the 20th-century.

Michael Ondaatje

He is one of the few writers of our time who has been touched with a code of values that will never be ironic. A great voice.

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Arrow of God 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
alexmoore190 More than 1 year ago
The acclaimed sequel to Things Fall Apart and No Longer At Ease, Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God does not disappoint, and is one of the most literarily evident works I have come across. Interestingly, Achebe decides against focusing the novel on Umoufia and the family of Okonkwo, but sets the story in a new Igbo nation, Umuaro, in the mid-1920's. The story follows Ezeulu, the Chief Priest of the nation's main deity, Ulu, who 5 years after a war with a neighboring village is still seeking a return to normalcy. Ezeulu faces the challenges of raising his family, living by his principles, and holding Umuaro under the guidance of Ulu, the deity that has protected for as long as anyone can remember while facing opposition from a rival priest Ezidemeli, and the gathering strength of the Christian Church in Nigeria. Direct, seemingly simple, yet deep text makes Arrow of God shine. Using subtle symbols, Achebe provides insight into the pride that drives Ezeulu, and gives insight into what drives the priest's actions. Like Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease before it, Arrow of God's subvert symbolism helps Achebe's ideas and views to sneak into a reader's mind behind the guise of direct language. Little room is left for readers to misinterpret the author's intentions; his strong words leave no space to wiggle. Just as he did in his previous novels, Achebe tricks you into loving a not-so-perfect protagonist through his efficient use of language. All in all, this is a great read if you enjoy Achebe's other works, and a good one to start with if you haven't read any of his books before now. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a subtle tragedy, for someone who wants to read a story of pride, or for someone who wants to read about a society changing as one of its greatest pillars tries to return to life as it was. This book shows that the greatest tragedy is more than losing one's life or one's principles, but losing the culture and community that one values, helpless to slow the bleeding.
MsNikki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good book. Set in an African village in the height of the English Colonial period. Achebe clearly illustrates the traditional culture of the not clearly defined West African country (unless I missed that part) and that of the White English administrators. My only complaint is that I had trouble keeping up with the African names. Kinda bad considering I have two African names. But really well written, I could almost taste the food described. I had visions of foo foo dancing in my head while I read. I knew the people he described, surely you've meet an Obika. The ending is sad, I mean you know what happens. If this is meant as a warning for developing countries, the lesson is a bitter one. How do you protect your clearly defined culture from a hegemonic pressure? What lessons does this story hold for new states, fragile democracies?
Wilhelm_Weber on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Insightful book about old African ways and the changes that colonialism brought about. The discourse of senior and junior administrators, fathers and sons/daughters, husbands and wives, tribes and villages are intricate and very delicately phrased. Good reading, although it is always with a laughing and a crying eye.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good book competently written and very even handed in dealing with the subject matter. There is a tendancy with writers to have the white guys wearing black hats and the black guys the white. But Achebe rightly sees the flaws in both our cultures and the inconsistencies. I assume that Achebe is a black writer born in Nigeria so it gives him a unique perspective on the events in his country.
quaintlittlehead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is a story of how individuals perceive and carry out their roles in society in the context of a community of Nigerian villages within the oversight of a British governmental authority. As typical for Achebe, there is no simple "us vs. them" mentality; instead, each character experiences his or her own view of what is taking place, and what actions to take next. The novel is a marvelous depiction of a history written through individual accounts rather than through an objective outsider perspective.More than this, it is also a parable of religion and worldview in collision. Christianity and the traditional religion do not simply conflict with each other in the story; they intermingle with and are ultimately affected by philosophical pragmatism. Characters on both sides of the religious divide manipulate events through their own religious interpretations; ultimately one group triumphs and the other does not, but this serves as a warning that an apparently religious triumph (such as winning the affections of a large group) enacted through the efforts of human will, rather than actual divine will, perches precariously in a position from which it can just as easily be toppled by the next mistake in judgement of human will. There are a good number of Christians who would do well to read this story and then take a critical look at their own behaviour. Achebe makes no claim about absolute truth here, but shows in a subtle and effective way that individuals can align philosophically with God and still act according to their own plan, with potentially disastrous effects.This publication is the second edition of this book and begins with a preface in which Achebe explains that he has made some alterations to clean up the text. I have not read the first edition and can not assess the extent of these alterations or whether they were appropriate. I can say that the preface, while not being specific, betrays the eventual outcome of the book, which may come as a disappointment to readers who want to be surprised. Thus, readers might be best advised to skip over the preface until after finishing the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Arrow of God kept me up all night. Chinua Achebe is a master storyteller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ARROW OF GOD is just as good as THINGS FALL APART, if not better. The story is based on the exotic traditional village culture of the Igbo nation in Western Nigeria. It is one of the African best literary works I have read. Achebe took us into Ezeulu's changing world and did what few writers can do- make us understand it all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is Achebe's best (if you ask me). Reading this book, I came to know a lot about the Ibo tradition.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must say that I first I found reading this book somewhat confusing and perpetual, but I have nothing but my own ignorence of the African culture to blame for that. As I studied up on African tradions and way of life I found this book quite meaningful