This is one of Harrison's first novels and is part of a series..
Jason DinAlt is a professional gambler who has psi powers that he can turn to his advantage. One night he is approached by a stranger with a unique proposition-gamble a huge amount of money to make a fortune worth billions. At first Jason is apprehensive but he can't refuse such a challenge!
The stranger identifies himself as Kerk Pyrrus, who also happens to be the ambassador to the planet that bears his name. Jason gets more and more curious as to why he is being hired-who is he to gamble for? What is the reason for the mission?
Kerk informs Jason that the planet Pyrrus is like no other planet in the galaxy, with ferocious plant and animal life and a very challenging climate, including a 2G atmosphere which makes even walking a struggle. Just to step out on the planet is suicide, he is informed, but Jason cannot be put off. Not only does he agree to gamble the money, risk being a planetwide outlaw, but also he decides he must visit this "Death World", against the better judgement of his companion.
And so begins Jason's adventure, first as a trainee, his peers being mere children, then as a serving soldier in the fight against this hostile planet. But there is far more to this Death World than meets the eye....
This book was written in 1960, a year before the first Stainless Steel Rat book, but is very much in that vein- one man caught up in a war against a seemingly unbeatable enemy. There are some interesting ideas in this book, including a weapons system that is attached to the wearer in such a way so that as soon as the person thinks about getting his gun out it is immediately in his hand; he is instantly armed for battle!
A fun little romp this! Bravo and RIP Mr Harrison!