The Lost War is one heck of a read from Karl K. Gallagher!
While he’s best known for his hard SF interplanetary adventure-turned Mil-SF Torchship series, Karl has dipped his toes in fantasy before with his story for us, Squire Errant, so I was very curious to see what he was going to be doing with a “portal fantasy” (that’s isekai, for your weebs out there).
The Lost War is the story of a historical re-enactment event/fair that gets sucked into another world. Using their skills, the hobbyist craftsmen, fighters, and other olde tymes enthusiasts must band together to survive. A few members begin developing magical abilities that help them in their day to day struggles.
The Lost War begins as something of a critique of anarcho-feudalism–it falls upon the “ruling couple” of the event to take charge de jure and the administrator to take charge de facto, which leads to some issues early on–but things smooth out a lot when the “queen”, who’d developed magic powers of mind-control, gets a pair of scissors through her neck.
It moves more towards action survival adventure once “orcs” show up and the feudal band has to go to war with the local parasitic bipeds. It builds predictably but rewardingly towards a climactic battle and semi-happy ending for one of the main couples. There’s a bit of mystery box stuff that’s not really resolved (nevermind that they’re all still stuck in the fantasy world) but will likely be addressed in subsequent installments (the first of which is already out).