The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi

The Lies of the Ajungo
The Forever Desert, book 1
by Moses Ose Utomi

They say there is no water in the City of Lies. They say there are no heroes in the City of Lies. They say there are no friends beyond the City of Lies. But would you believe what they say in the City of Lies?

In the City of Lies, they cut out your tongue when you turn thirteen, to appease the terrifying Ajungo Empire and make sure it continues sending water. Tutu will be thirteen in three days, but his parched mother won’t last that long. So Tutu goes to his oba and makes a deal: she provides water for his mother, and in exchange he will travel out into the desert and bring back water for the city. Thus begins Tutu’s quest for the salvation of his mother, his city, and himself.

Tutu is approaching his thirteenth birthday, still just an inexperienced boy when we meet him. Having never left his isolated city, his scope of the world is very limited. He only knows what he has been told, until he leaves. Driven by his love for his mother, we get a clear sense of how dear he holds this relationship and how desperate he is to save her. This goal remains his constant motivation for overcoming whatever he comes across in the desert.

We learn about the world alongside Tutu. As he sets out in search for water, he encounters people and obstacles that shape his understanding and contribute to his growth. We gain knowledge of other places, see magic and violence, and eventually uncover the lies of the Ajungo. In his early naivety, we have moments of hope. As he encounters others, moments of fear. And as the truth of this world is revealed, moments of resolve.

A well-written, compelling story with interesting characters, this was a wonderful read. Definitely recommend checking this one out when it releases on March 21st, and I’m looking forward to where this series goes in the next one.

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