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?

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This is the second book in the Lost Tales of Solace series.
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