Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.
His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.
But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.
Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?
A story told by a warship’s sentient AI, ideal for fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward books or Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell.
Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.
If you buy here then more money goes to the author. Yay! But if you prefer to buy from online stores such as Amazon, Kobo, Nook or Apple then that’s cool too: here are links to the book on those sites.
"When a commander is faced with his convictions as a soldier and his morals as a human being, he avoids the easy option and makes a move like a well-seasoned chess player.
The story is narrated by Aurikaa12, Major Grubane’s trusted AI. Aurikaa12’s technical and non-human perspective filled with dry wit and philosophical musings is what draws me into this story.
Once again, Mr. Drinkwater impresses me with his fascinating and intricate AI/human interactions contained within a novella. In addition, he does a remarkable job intertwining chess plays with Major Grubane’s military strategies. I can’t wait to read more in this series! If you enjoy military science fiction with captivating characters and a shrewd and riveting plotline, give this book a try."
— The Eclectic Review
"I enjoyed the parallels drawn between chess and war strategy. Major Grubane’s preferred AI tool has plenty of quote-worthy insights into human behavior, psychology, and culture.
“Rules bind us all. Freedom is an illusion.” -Major Grubane
Grubane is a fascinating story about strategy and negotiation, and an AI tool that increasingly shows human characteristics and thoughts."
— Book Reviews by Satabdi
"What I love about these books is the unique perspective the author uses to tell the story, this time it was mostly from the AI Aurikaa 12’s POV. As the story goes on, you can see it becoming more self aware, trying to interpret the world around it, particularly Grubane himself.
Grubane is a slick sci-fi story and a perfect way to escape reality for a while."
— On The Shelf Reviews
"Grubane is thought provoking sci-fi, the interactions between Grubane and 12 make you wonder if A.I can have real emotions, a soul. Very clever and sci-fi at its best."
— The Bookwormery
"What a great mix of technology, sci-fi and characters.
This is a novella perfect to start with the Solace Series.
By this novella, I discovered how much I loved the Artificial Intelligence Aurikaa and the evolving character of Grubane.
When you love another read with links to the future, mystery and a fantastic characterisation this novella is the one to start with and then you will want to read the other ones.
Grubane is an intelligent mix of scifi, adventure and intriguing humans and A. I."
— Fany Reads English
"Major Grubane is a well-known and in many ways feared commander of the Aurikaa, the cruiser of the UFS. But this novella is narrated by AI, who strangely feels more than a machine, and it makes the story so much more interesting. It is through AI’s eyes we witness the choices Grubane must make to both prevent what effectively could have been a mass murder, as well as protecting his people, both crew and family alike.
What I liked the most about Grubane was definitely the first-person narration from AI perspective. It was so interesting to see the event unfolding through the eyes of Aurikaa12, who while not human almost wants to be one but still, at moments, look at people and their behaviour differently than a person would. But Aurikaa12 makes you question many aspects of our usual gestures, thoughts and emotions.
The games of chess between Grubane and Aurikaa12 that allow major to train his minds and prepare strategies that he later can use in the warfare are equally the beginning of this strange friendship – between a human and an AI. But you grow to care in a strange way about Aurikaa12, which makes the ending more heartbreaking.
Grubane is a nice little sci-fi novella, with Grubane and AI drawing the action and the atmosphere in the interesting direction at all times. Grubane can be read as a standalone, but it made me interested in the series, and all the political tension that’s happening in the world created by Karl Drinkwater."
— Alicja Writes
"Set before the events of Lost Solace, this novella introduces the feared and famed Major Grubane, chess player and skilled negotiator, intent on bringing another planet into the UFS, but not by the means his superiors desire.
Preferring negotiations over violence and death, he applies his knowledge of ancient games (in this case his beloved chess) to complex interplanetary conflict.
Narrated by his personal AI bot, Aurikka12, we learn more about the apparently ruthless, utterly loyal Major that pursues Opal and Clarissa through the pages of Lost Solace."
"Another highly entertaining offering from Karl Drinkwater, ‘Grubane’ is the second instalment in the ‘Lost Tales of Solace’, the prequels to his ‘Lost Solace’ series.
Being a bit of a gamer, myself, any book that discusses strategy, chess tactics or game theory is already on to a winner with me. The world building is solid, the writing and editing standard second-to-none. But it’s not a straightforward box-ticking exercise; alongside the Hard SF aspects, there is some true humanity in Drinkwater’s writing and, as before, I was delighted by the depth of the characterisation – especially that of the AI.
Sociology, politics, philosophy, ethics, religion, free will, duty; it’s a lot to pack into a novella, but Drinkwater manages it with ease.
I can see this series becoming a firm favourite, and very much look forward to continuing the journey. 5*"
— Pagefarer Book Blog
"Whether or not you have read any books in the Lost Solace universe, Grubane is easy to pick up and enjoy. It can be read as part of the series or as a standalone book.
You might think that the narrative could come across as clinical given that the tale is told from the perspective of an AI. That isn’t the case at all! The AI’s featured in the books I have read so far are really quite special. They are highly intelligent and through human contact, they learn a lot about humans and go on to develop personalities of their own. The dynamic between Grubane and Aurikaa12 is one that emphasises the point that humans and technology can learn a lot from each other.
Through Aurikaa12 we learn a lot about the prestigious Major Grubane and there is plenty of character development. The difficult scenario he finds himself in and how he responds to such tells us a lot about him as a person. The chess component of the novel is very interesting as it proves that the Major is an excellent strategist. I also liked how the events in the book were analogised to a game of chess as well!
There is no shortage of action in Grubane and the fast-paced narrative makes this very easy to pick up and become immersed in. I read Grubane in just a couple of sittings. The narrative packs in plenty of plot twists and unexpected moments despite being just over one hundred pages long. It’s the perfect length to still be long enough to invest in the characters and storyline but also accessible and a relatively quick read. Personally, Grubane struck the perfect balance on the length to have the best of both."
"One of the highlights of this series is the important role the AI characters are given; they are not merely devices designed to engender a sense of intrigue or fear as to their eventual capabilities, and their developing abilities - and concurrent sentience - are a welcome feature in these thought-provoking books.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Twelve is developing beyond its apparent capabilities. It plays chess games against Grubane and may be merely adapting its tactics in order to gain an advantage over a worthy opponent.
Throughout the novella there are excerpts from Grubane's treatise entitled 'The Philosophy and Application of Ancient Games' in which he discusses chess strategies which could equally apply to militaristic actions. Like Twelve, Grubane is a master tactician but when a third party interferes in his mission, it becomes ever more difficult to figure out exactly who is doing the bluffing. This clever novella twists throughout, meaning I was never quite sure of the outcome.
Grubane's intricate, intelligent plot belies its relatively short length as Karl Drinkwater explores geopolitical tensions and control amidst a background of identity and belonging. Though set in a world very different from our own, the humans here aren't so unrecognisable with their dogmatic beliefs and sense of superiority based on skin colour uncomfortably familiar.
There is so much potential here for further development of these characters and I would welcome a return visit to the Aurikaa. Twelve's perceptive observations are frequently peppered with the the dry wit I've come to associate with the AI characters in this series and Major Grubane is a fascinating, complex man who I hope we see more of in the future. The world-building within the Solace world continues to excel and I highly recommend both Grubane and the series as a whole to anybody who enjoys astute, immersive science-fiction."
— Hair Past A Freckle
"Two things struck me about this economically told tale: the first one was the sheer scope of Grubane's universe. The second was the character of the Aurikaa's AI.
This universe shows how essentially nothing changes in terms of warfare and dominance, for which the game of chess is both symbol and tactic. It's touching too, to see the development of the relationship between the AI and Grubane, particularly its feelings for him. It recalled to me many of the ideas currently circulating in science and storytelling. Can artificial intelligence have a soul? I would say yes, on the strength of this story.
I also very much enjoyed the activities of the loyal crew, their names and responsibilities were intriguing. As was Grubane, the very epitome of the loneliness of command. The novella delineates all this with an economy that puts many other more verbose stories to shame. The same is also true of the dialogue between Grubane and the leaders of the planet he has been sent to dominate. Crisp and to the point, it drives the story most effectively. It keeps a good pace with no longeurs. You can't say fairer than that."
— Lock And Load, Brides Of Christ
"The intercutting with Grubane’s thesis about chess adds to the complexity and gives a clue about what Grubane will do.
The development of Aurikaa12’s personality and relationship with Grubane is really well written.
The story adds background information about the UFS and the twisted religion that runs it. I think that the novellas and short stories would make a good collection, once Karl has written a few more.
Another fine addition to the Lost Solace universe."
— Rosie Writes
"Lots of action, and full of twists. Even readers who haven't tackled the main series can read this novella and get a feel for the character of Grubane. Plus, who doesn't love unique AIs?"
— Jazzy Book Reviews
"This is the second novella in the “Lost Tales of Solace” series, the first one is entitled “Helene” and is the one which introduced me to this author’s brilliant sci-fi/fantasy books with intriguing dilemmas and thought provoking scenarios.
This story is an enthralling read, a great addition to this series and additional prelude to the Lost Solace series. Major Grubane’s interactions with Aurikaa12 are believably portrayed, the dramatic events onboard the spacecraft brought to life in the reader’s imagination and the use of tactics learnt playing chess are key. Even if you don’t play chess, you can appreciate how what Grubane learnt playing it against Aurikaa12 impinges on his decisions and actions. It is a skilfully written and entertaining read, dealing with philosophical and moral dilemmas as well as being a fascinating read.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and have no hesitation in highly recommending it and the other books in both associated series."
"I love the Lost Solace series by Karl Drinkwater, so when I found out there was a novella for a side story, I jumped at the chance to read it. Grubane fits right into the timeline and is such an intriguing premise. This novella is a good place to start, if you haven’t read the series yet, but if you have, this focuses on a favorite character of mine – Major Grubane and the A.I.
Karl Drinkwater is a master at characterization. Grubane is a fantastic character, and learning more about him is really fantastic. I love the AI interaction. I think that is one of the things that makes this series so good.
I am loving the indepth look at the events leading up to the Lost Solace series. This is such an entertaining novella.
I recommend checking this one out regardless if you have read the series or if you’re looking to start it! Highly recommended!
— Jessica Belmont
"I'm really hoping a hard copy bind up Lost Tales Of Solace will be released in the future so I can complete my Karl Drinkwater shelf!
As usual the writing of an AI is spot on. I always end up having them as a favourite character as though you can tell they aren't human, they learn and develop as the story continues. I get far too invested in how they "feel".
I loved the use of chess throughout as it was something relatable and helped show how Grubane thought through certain situations and used his logical prowess. It also shows just how much work and thought goes into every story that Karl Drinkwater writes.
Though not exactly an origin story, it definitely gives a lot more insight into Grubane and it means this novella fits perfectly read either before Lost Solace or after. A good back story is always interesting in my opinion!
Another absolutely top notch and unmissable part of the Lost Solace series. I already can't wait for more.
I gave this book 5 stars."
— Life Of A Nerdish Mum
"How I love to be back in this world.
Grubane is everything I thought he would be and more …
AI Aurikaa12 narrates and they are a character in their own right. I loved the introspection. Watching them grow and develop was very interesting.
Interspersed with the mission is Grubane’s treatise which made me think of how the strategies and tactics can be applied to many situations, not just a UFS mission. I love how this ties in.
I enjoyed finding out the snippets about his crew and other little nuggets. Reading someone’s face like a book takes on a whole new meaning. 🙂
There’s a lot packed into this short story. Rivalry, betrayal and a twist that I didn’t see coming made this a page turning read for me.
Highly recommend The Lost Solace world and short stories."
— Jera's Jamboree
"If you haven't already read read Lost Solace, I think Grubane could be read independently as a satisfying standalone novella. Drinkwater concentrates his focus on a single mission in Grubane's long career and narrates it from the point of view of an AI splinter, Aurikaa12, which he is gradually coaching to play chess. Through their games, Grubane and Aurikaa12 explore deeper philosophical concepts.
I appreciated seeing more of the background to this world. Hints of racism and religious intolerance undermine the believed superiority of the militaristic UFS empire building strategy and Grubane's questioning of where the moral line should be drawn makes for tense scenarios. The unexpected reappearance of chess in this book has me tempted to start trying to play again."
— Literary Flits
"Fascinating and just complex enough that skimming won't do. Reading at a slower pace allows the reader to absorb the characters' reasoning and thoughtfulness. Not at all predictable, rare is this world."
— Bobcat (Amazon)
"Here we meet the strategic genius ship captain Major William Grubane in a complex game of an engagement where the relatively dove-like Grubane has to fulfil a mission that involves suppressing a rebellious planet while appeasing the more hawk-like side of his chain of command.
As is common to all the books in this series, an important factor is the interaction between a human and an artificial intelligence, in this case one of the many clone-like parts of the ship's AI known as Aurikaa12, which Grubane has encouraged towards a more human-like state of general intelligence than the other 'splinters'. The story is narrated from Aurikaa12's viewpoint.
Along the way, chapters are interlaced with sections from Grubane's treatise The Philosophy and Application of Ancient Games in which he considers strategy in chess in a way that plays out in his real world interaction with the representatives of the planet and of his warlike civilisation.
As well as linking in to the main line of the Lost Solace stories, this is both another interesting venture into the mind of an AI (the central feature in Helene) and an interesting piece of brinkmanship from Grubane. Originally I was a bit doubtful about the role of individually published novellas that ebooks have made possible, but as someone who doesn't like overlong books they have increasingly become one of my favourite reading formats - and Grubane does not disappoint."
— Popular Science
"Drinkwater masterfully intertwines the plot of the novella, and the philosophy and tactics of Chess, to create an overall narrative that is positively charged with intrigue, and as many twists and turns as you could ask for.
The characterization of Grubane is fantastic, and everything I came to expect from the short time we got to know him in the first book of the series. The A.I., "Aurikaa12" that features prominently in this novella is also a highlight, if you have read any of the series before, you know how outstanding the human/A.I. interaction is.
I highly recommend giving this one a read, whether you are a fan of military, sci-fi, or even philosophical fiction. I found it immensely enjoyable!"
— John-Michael Lelievre (Goodreads)
"Karl has delved deeper into Sci-fi branching out from the Horror Sci-fi we are used to with his main Solace books. I really enjoy learning about the wider universe and the social political context. Karl doesn't try to fill the book with background, he's been good at weaving in the wider elements of the universe to the core story.
I really enjoy the different perspective that Karl brings to his Sci-fi. Normally AI's are relegated to secondary characters to provide ex machina. His writing brings a fresh look at AI and the internal monologue they possess, musing over the differences between the AI (artificial) and human (organic). What I find most impressive is even knowing that Grubane is the main character I feel that Aurika12 (the AI) is providing an almost narrative dialogue at times where they are almost speaking to the reader. It's very subtle and doesn't jar with the fluidity of the chapters.
I'm a big fan of the Lost Solace books and this is a great entry into what looks to be developing into a excellent series."
— A. Rowan (Amazon)
"5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge.
This is another great addition to the Solace series. Each novella gives us more background to the universe Drinkwater has created, building up to the two main novels.
In Grubane, he has interwoven the story with tactics used in chess, in a clever, intriguing way. It gives us an insight into Grubane’s mind, and leads the story along to its gripping conclusion.
The interaction between the AI and Major Grubane is intelligent, witty, and at times almost childlike, as the AI questions its almost human-like feelings. I loved these two characters – neither is as sterile or emotionless as they seem at the beginning.
A great read, as ever, from Drinkwater. I highly recommend the whole series!"
— Pink Quill Books
Book 2 in the Lost Tales Of Solace series