This is book number 1 in the The Forever Desert series.
Moses Ose Utomi's debut novella, The Lies of the Ajungo, follows one boy’s epic quest to bring water back to his city and save his mother’s life. Prepare to enter the Forever Desert.
A Library Journal Best Book of the Month!
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.
The Lies of the Ajungo opens the curtains on a tremendous world, and begins the epic fable of the Forever Desert. With every word, Moses Ose Utomi weaves magic.
“Utomi’s writing is both elegant and efficient, and the story is so eminently devourable that I finished it in a couple of hours. In keeping with the contradictions at the book’s heart, it left me perfectly sated and hungry for more.” —The New York Times
“Utomi perfectly blends fantasy and fable in his mesmerizing debut novella. …[He] draws readers into a harsh and beautiful world where nothing is as it seems. Fantasy fans will want to keep an eye on this up-and-coming author.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This short but deeply affecting parable will unveil new perspectives to readers long after it’s done. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Gripping and full of heart, the tale bubbles with a love of story itself. Utomi’s star is on the rise and I can’t wait to see what his imagination brings us next.” —Maurice Broaddus
“The Lies of the Ajungo is a tightly-packed, devastating punch, a masterful use of the novella as form and a heartbreaking tale of the lies we hold on to—the lies that help us live and the lies that hold us back.” —C. L. Clark, author of The Unbroken
“Utomi writes a legendary tale that is certain to inspire many more.” —Locus Reviews
“A deftly written fantasy quest.” —BuzzFeed
“A captivating and violent fable, The Lies of the Ajungo plumbs the depths of deception yet bursts with hope. Taut and unexpected. I devoured it.” —Fonda Lee, author of the Green Bone Saga
“Utomi is on the brink of something exceptional.” —Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of Son of the Storm
“Exquisitely crafted and original. Fiction at its best shows us the truth by telling us lies.” —T. L. Huchu, author of The Library of the Dead
“A searing and mythical tale of manipulation, kindness, and sacrifice.” —Marie Brennan, author of A Natural History of Dragons
“The Lies of the Ajungo is a masterfully epic and delightful tale. It is rich with, and spun from West African lore, with puzzles that unfurl before you as you read, thrilling fight scenes, wonderful mysteries, slowly unfolding secrets, and a dazzling revelation at the end of it all.” —Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki