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Face The Truth

The Truth of the Aleke  (Forever Desert, volume 2)

By Moses Ose Utomi 

17 May, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework

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The Truth of the Aleke is the second and apparently final volume of Moses Ose Utomi’s secondary-universe fantasy series, Forever Desert.

Thanks to its Peacekeepers and Truthseekers, The City of Truth has withstood the Cult of Tutu’s relentless attacks for centuries. Now, it falls to resolute teenage Junior Peacekeeper Osi to end the conflict.

Osi’s determination to pursue justice (regardless of collateral damage or common sense) led to his disgrace. By rights, he should have taken part in the Ascendance ceremony, wherein the worthy are given God’s Eyes to empower them. Excessive diligence punishing wrongdoers earned Osi a public whipping and a rare disinvitation to the ceremony.

Convinced that he had acted correctly, Osi sneaks into the ceremony. Thus he is present when the Cult launches a devastating attack. Many attendees are scoured to the bone or smothered by a desert sandstorm magically directed at the city. Truthseekers fall to Cult iron weapons. In a moment of desperation, Osi eats a God’s Eye and uses the impressive abilities it confers to help drive off the cultists, losing an arm in the process.

The battered teen earns the accolades he so yearns. Not only is he permitted to keep the God’s Eye he appropriated1, Osi will be provided a year’s training so that he may pursue a very special destiny. Osi will seek out and kill the Cult’s leader, the Aleke.

Although mercifully free of introspection, Osi notices some false notes during his training. The City of Truth appears to have its own power struggles in addition to the seemingly endless war with the Cult. Nevertheless, his leaders have revealed one absolute truth: Osi has a very special destiny waiting for him.


If a feel-good adventure is what you seek, look elsewhere. Aleke is unrelentingly grim. Utomi’s dedication to pursuing the plot to its logical end is particularly highlighted by the chance that saw me read Vernon’s cheerfully upbeat Harriet the Invincible immediately before Aleke. I recommend both books but unless you enjoy mental gear grinding, not back-to-back or at least not in that order. 

Author Utomi heaps on Osi lasting physical damage that would give a Tim Powers’ protagonist pause. Perhaps there are some of the City’s citizens who are given prodigious magical healing. Osi is not one of them. Every significant injury has long-term consequences for Osi.

The narrative follows Osi’s arduous learning process. Perhaps the most important lesson he learns is that undesirable outcomes can nevertheless be ranked. It is possible for one state of affairs to be bad and another to be much worse. There may be people out there for whom that would be a valuable lesson.

Otomi’s tale is skillfully told, the characters rounded, the perspective of its protagonist both unreliable and illuminating. The narrative is vivid and incredibly bleak. Osi eventually comprehends that truth. One hopes more people in the real world will.

The Truth of the Aleke is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Chapters-Indigo), and here (Words Worth Books). I could not find The Truth of the Aleke at Apple Books.

1: It was probably for the best that the authorities don’t try to recover the God’s Eye, as the easiest ways to recover it seem to be surgery or possibly vivisection.