Plot: This is a well-plotted, smartly paced fantasy novel. It is built from converging subplots, each of which features a main character whose adventures allow for the elaboration of the history of the kingdoms and families central to its imaginary world and the intrigues brewing in them. The reader will keep turning pages to see how the bigger story they are building comes together.
Prose: Julius’s prose style is well suited to the story she tells. It has the comfortable, old-fashioned feel of the narrative and dialogue of many other historical fantasies involving royals, warriors, wizards, and vassals. It never feels forced or mannered.
Originality: Portents of Chaos is very much in the tradition of other stories that blend sword and sorcery, romance, wizardry, and high fantasy—up to and including Game of Thrones. But it never seems derivative of other works; the imaginary-world fantasy carries enough seeming verisimilitude that at moments it reads like a solid historical novel.
Character Development: Julius’s characters are well developed and believable, especially her female characters, Maura and Halla, who are determined, resourceful, and independent, even though they move through a male-dominated patriarchal society. Her other characters—especially Leif, with his previous unknown elven heritage, and Master Morgan, his mentor and the wizard whose actions carefully bring all of the subplots together—offer the story great diversity and depth.
Date Submitted: August 26, 2019