The Truth of the Aleke

Tor.com. (The Forever Desert, Bk. 2). Mar. 2024. 112p. ISBN 9781250849052. $24.99. FANTASY
Five hundred years after the conclusion of The Lies of the Ajungo, events have become legends, truths are hidden more deeply, and both sides have become even more invested in keeping those truths hidden. Young Osi grew up believing that his City of Truth was the last bastion of civilization holding back the ravening hordes of the Aleke and that his father was a hero for falling in the city’s defense. But his first journey into the desert shows him the lies at his city’s heart and the truth of his enemies. When his journey comes full circle, Osi is beaten, broken, and reformed, and finally learns the lesson that the Forever Desert has been attempting to teach him all along. Underneath Osi’s journey is a truth about how old struggles and original sins become baked into culture to the point where the living continue fighting dead wars for irrelevant reasons, pushing peace further out of reach with each generation.
VERDICT Utomi’s searing, thought-provoking fantasy novella (the second in “The Forever Desert” series, set in an environment inspired by the Sahara) has heartbreaking parallels in the present and is highly recommended.
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