REVIEW: The Truth of the Aleke by Moses Ose Utomi

Moses Ose Utomi releases yet another triumph of a novella in his second instalment to his phenomenal Forever Desert novella trilogy. Set 500 years after the events of The Lies of the Ajungo, we revisit the Forever Desert in The Truth of the Aleke. Seventeen-year-old Osi is a Junior Peacekeeper and is trying to keep himself and his family afloat. Osi is on duty when the infamous Cult of Tutu and their mysterious leader The Aleke arrive and massacre hundreds in order to steal the sacred ‘Gods Eyes’, black stone-beads that gift super-strength, amongst other powers, to its holder. In a feat of bravery, Osi finds himself confronting The Aleke, but is quickly cut down. After the ambush, Osi is named a hero amongst his people. His glory is short-lived, however, when he is tasked with the responsibility of destroying The Aleke and his cult, and recovering the stolen ‘Gods Eyes’.

The Truth of the AlekeThis was tremendous, to say the least. Anyone who has read The Lies of the Ajungo is acutely aware of Utomi’s ability to write the harshest tragedies in just over 100 pages. This instalment is no different. Utomi explores themes of falsehood, poverty, power and the binds of history. Each of these lay heavy within the realm of Grimdark, making this the perfect read for any Grimdark fan looking for a short and snappy read.

The story is not so black and white, and the dichotomy of good and evil is severely blurred here. We follow Osi as he slowly discovers the truth of his people’s history, and how he chooses to handle the heavy weight of this. Readers are kept on their toes, never knowing who to believe, much like Osi himself. The essence of the novella can be summed up in one of Utomi’s brilliant and poignant quotes:

‘History is only a story, told by those with power to justify why they have it.’

The magic system in The Truth of the Aleke is superb, and reading the action scenes will always get your blood pumping. The fantasy element works hand-in-hand with the political aspect, balancing out the story well and never over-saturating one over the other. Aspects of history from the first novella are rife in this book, lending the reader a sense of nostalgia while reading.

I also wanted to note that it is imperative to read the author’s note at the end of the book.  Not only does it encompass the aim of the novella in its entirety, but Utomi shares his thoughts on how he sees Osi in himself, as well as Tutu from The Lies of the Ajungo. I truly felt the author’s note rounded out my reading experience perfectly.

Utomi’s ability to cram such a dense and well-developed world in just over 100 pages is commendable and done with a fluid grace; it almost felt like reading a full-sized novel. The Truth of the Aleke  was so well curated and detailed for its length, whilst simultaneously leaving me wanting more, having been overtaken by the curiosity the ending leaves us with.  This, of course, provides the perfect leeway for book 3. I will always look forward to returning to the Forever Desert, with Utomi at the rein. Book 3 could not come soon enough!

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Saberin C

Saberin C

Saberin lives in London and works in publishing. More often than not, you can find her with her nose in a fantasy book or doing whatever it takes to get her cats attention! You can find her on @sabisreading on instagram, where she posts all about her current reads, reviews, fictional fixations and general ramblings on life (with the occasional picture of Kiara, the meanest cat to ever exist).