Book Review | Grubane by Karl Drinkwater

Grubane cover

Genre: Science fiction (space opera/military sci-fi/artificial intelligence)

Publication date: June 13, 2020

Publisher – Organic Apocalypse

Purchase Link –

Standalone second novella in the “Lost Tale of Solace” series

Amazon India –


My Thoughts

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I began reading the book, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it because there would be a lot of technical details about military action. I was wrong.

Even though I haven’t read the Lost Solace series (and I must remedy that!), 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. It ended too soon for me!

(I received a review copy from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.)


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?

About Karl Drinkwater

Karl Drinkwater photo

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

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