Erastus. An unimaginable nightmare. A searing hot world, covered with cracked, burning deserts and sweltering jungles. A hostile planet far from Earth, it was the most hellish place men have ever tried to survive. Called Gehenna by the condemned men sent to fight there, it forged the few who survived its murderous battles into the strongest soldiers in history.
Jake Taylor was a New Hampshire farmboy who wanted nothing more than to marry his girlfriend, work on the farm, and maybe one day write a great novel. But mankind was fighting the alien Tegeri and their bio-mechanical cyborg soldiers, and UN Central needed men…men to go to war on hostile worlds like Erastus. Jake wasn't given a choice, not a real one. He found himself torn from home and family, conscripted for life and shipped to Erastus to take his place in the battle lines, never to return. In this alien hell, Taylor and his cybernetically-enhanced comrades fight their never-ending war against the servants of the Tegeri, the manufactured soldiers they call simply, the Machines.
Jake survives battle after battle, rising steadily through the ranks, giving all to the desperate fight to save Earth. But endless combat in hell carries a cost, and Taylor can feel himself losing what little is left of his spirit, his humanity. When he finally discovers a terrible secret…that everything he'd believed, all he'd fought for his entire life, was nothing but a monstrous lie, he must decide who is the real enemy, and how far he is willing to go to right a horrific wrong. And if he does what he must to prevail against overwhelming odds and win the final victory, will he be able to control the growing madness inside…or will he be become the very thing he has sworn to destroy?
"Started reading and thought, no, don't think I'm going to get into this - then after a few chapters, couldn't put it down. Brilliant story of courage, survival and betrayal - have just purchased Portal Wars II, and can't wait to go to bed and start reading it!! Well done, Jay Allan - and congrats on your fantastic Crimson World series, which was awesome."– Reader review
"Interspecies warfare at its most brutal. A stark tale of a despotic Earth and the soldiers who fight and die in the mistaken belief that they are fighting to prevent the annihilation of the human race by murdering and blood thirsty aliens."– Reader review
"My exposure to Jay Allen's work began with the Marine, and the Crimson Worlds series. I loved the feeling that I drew from the stories and I felt those same feelings again as I begin the Portal Wars trilogy. I loved this introduction and I'm looking forward to the next two."– Reader review
From the Journal of Jake Taylor:
There are two suns here, and no night. The brightness is constant; it wears you down until you can feel the madness building inside you…a craving, a painful longing, willing in vain for it to be dark. Then the wave of frustration, of anger and bitterness when there is nothing but the light, the unending light. Even when you close your eyes you can still see the hazy orange glow, constant, unceasing.
But it's not the light that's hardest to take; it's the heat. Erastus is a hot world, hotter than the most sunbaked desert back home. When you first get here you can't breathe, and when you do force air into your lungs it feels like fire exploding in your chest. Your instincts conflict…first trying to stop you from taking another searing, agonizing breath, then succumbing to the irresistible need for air. You think you are going to die then and there, to yield to natural forces you were never supposed to survive. But you don't. A world like Erastus teaches you just how adaptable man really is.
On Earth I loved the night, the quiet darkness, the cool stillness, a field of twinkling stars the only light in an inky sky. Now I can hardly remember what it felt like, sitting on the porch breathing the crisp air. I always loved autumn, the first chill of the year that sent me to the closet to fetch another blanket. Now all I know is a hellish perversion of eternal summer. Cold? A memory almost faded now. The concept remains, a lingering vestige, but the recollection of how it felt? Gone.