Tales from Deadwood is the first in a series of three novels featuring a lavish mixture of dime-novel mythology, historical fact, plenty of action, and a whole lot of the Old West, which sums to an original and fresh novel. It chronicles the lives of several men and women who make their way to Deadwood, South Dakota in search of wealth on the newly discovered gold of the Black Hills, including all of the regular players: Wild Bill Hickok, Charley Utter, Al Swearengen, Calamity Jane; and a few new ones as well.
Dan Ryan is the central character in the story, and the novel opens with him defending a wagon train from an Indian attack. He, along with the other men in the party, repel the attack, and Dan makes a new friend in the process. He and Bellamy Bridges decide to partner up, and when they finally reach Deadwood they purchase a claim. The relationship between Dan and Bellamy—plus a few whores, a madam, a gambler, and an old general—is the main storyline, but it isn’t the only storyline.
The other plotline follows Wild Bill Hickok and his entourage as they travel from Cheyenne to Deadwood. Wild Bill doesn’t make it to Deadwood before the end of the novel, but Mr. Jameson does an admirable job of painting him as a strong, courageous, patient, and kind man who protects his friends and shows uncommon patience with his admirers.
Tales from Deadwood is not a rip-off of HBO’s Deadwood, but instead it is story that stands on its own merits—the characters are portrayed significantly different, and the storyline focuses on places and people the television series does not. It is a traditional western with enough action, lore, and suspense to please the core readership of the genre, but the characters and simple, sparse prose is done with the economy and expertise that will also appeal to nearly anyone who enjoys a well-told tale.