Hot off the Press,  Reviews,  Tarot Reviews

Hot off the Press: Review of The Game of Thrones Tarot

 Written by Katalin Patnaik

Hot off the Press!!!

[wrangler note: This deck was released the day before yesterday. And your very own co-chair, Katalin, has bounced into action and reviewed it for us, so here it is, skipping the queue, our very own rave review of The Game of Thrones Tarot….. so make yourself comfortable, and enjoy the ride…..}

Cue title song:  doo doo doodoodoooo doo doodoodoooo…

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you have been waiting for this deck for what seems to be like aeons! But let me tell you one thing: it was totally worth it!

I liked Liz Dean even before she was commissioned to co-create this deck with illustrator Craig Coss, but now I simply adore her! She has done a fantastic job, I am so pleased with her choices for the cards! I don’t even know where to start the praises!

Ok, let’s calm down a bit. Deep breaths. In… and out. Right.

The Game of Thrones Tarot is a full 78 card deck that follows the Rider-Waite-Smith system, although it gives homage to Marseille type decks on some of the cards – I will speak about these a bit later.

The Fool is 0, Strength is 8 and Justice is 11. The suits are Spears (Wands), Swords, Cups and Coins. Court Cards are King, Queen, Knight and Page.

Card backs are fully reversible. The hinged lid box contains the deck and a 100-page hard cover booklet.

Card Stock and Dimensions

The cards have a lovely linen finish; it makes them look very sophisticated. They aren’t printed on thick cardboard but the card stock isn’t super thin plastic, either; I wouldn’t treat them Vegas style because they are a bit bendy but they are easy to shuffle overhand. They glide easily and fit my hands perfectly; not too big, not too small… just right! They measure 12cm x 7cm.

Imagery

The illustrator has lived up to his name. Each  character is well recognisable, and the deck has a consistent feel throughout. The pictures remind me of coloured in woodcuts, with a faded effect added here and there – a lovely touch! The colour scheme matches that of the TV series; luscious, deep colours that draw you in and evoke strong feelings; be it the feeling of luxury, poverty, love, hate, disgust or rage… I would like to congratulate both Mr Coss and the costume and visuals team of the TV show! Everything is so pleasing to look at, you have done a great job!

The Companion Book

It isn’t often that you get a hard cover companion book with a tarot deck! I was genuinely surprised – absolutely gobsmacked – when I saw that little gem! It is so pretty! A sweet hundred pages long booklet with a short introduction to tarot, some very tasty spreads to try out, and of course the card meanings. Both Majors and Minors have their keywords, upright and reverse meanings as well as a short explanation of what we see on the illustration. The Majors are given a little more detail, explaining who the character is and why they have been chosen for that particular card.

First Impressions

I must mention that the deck is solely based on the HBO show, and not on the books. Obviously the show is based on the books but there are quite a few differences. You will find these if you are a geek like me and have read the novels as well as watched the series. So, just be clear on what you expect: the deck follows the HBO series.

As I mentioned before, I loved the associations Liz made with the characters. Looking at some of the cards I actually had to exclaim “Oh yes! This is so right!!” I particularly love Littlefinger as the Magician, Brienne as Strength, Samwell as Temperance, Ramsey as the Devil and the Night King as the King of Swords. Of course Arya as Death and Daenerys as the Empress are great choices too, but we have seen them in the previews of the deck already! I am not quite sure about Lord Varys as the Hierophant, but the companion book does explain the thought behind it.

My absolute favourite cards are the Two of Cups and Coins. They are inspired by Marseille type decks and I was so happy to see them I had tears of joy in my eyes! It is so rare that a modern deck pays homage to the old school ones, and I really like this little quirk! The Two of Cups has the Faith of the Seven’s marriage wows written on it and the Two of Coins says ‘A Lannister always pays his debts’. How cool is that!

There was only one card that I didn’t get at first glance, and that is the Ten of Cups. Ten candles burning in a window… where is happiness and rainbows and all that fluff? But reading the companion book has resulted in this card taking the place of my most favourite Ten of Cups ever! It is Ned and Caitlin’s cosy bedroom in Winterfell, and each candle represents a member of their family. The feeling of cosiness, safety and stability in one’s family that comes from this card is absolutely beautiful. It’s not the superficial ‘happy family’ image. This card shows a real family who very much have their differences, guilt and regrets, but who nevertheless have a strong feeling of belonging together. Liz, thank you so much for this card! It’s wonderful, and so real!

The only thing I’m missing from the deck are the Wildlings. Mance Rayder, Rattleshirt, and most importantly Tormund Giantsbane (hello, Knight of Wands!! There aren’t many characters with quite such a big…mouth!). They could have been fitted in nicely, but again, they aren’t so central… The Lannister woman’s offspring haven’t made it in the deck either, so that is a slight condolence; although Joffrey’s purple face was strangely satisfying. Oh well. The deck concentrates on the main Houses and vital characters (although who is vital and who is expendable changes from episode to episode), and if you think about it, trying to fit everyone in would be quite impossible. Liz had her work cut out, choosing just 78 instances of this richly woven, epic tale!

Reading with the Deck

I am not sure how a person who isn’t a Game of Thrones fan would get along with the cards. I’m guessing not very well because the images and interpretations heavily rely on our general knowledge of the series. Of course it could be read with the general RWS meanings but it wouldn’t be used to its potential. The characters’ personality and storyline adds a great deal to the basic tarot meanings, and that would be completely missed by someone not familiar with the HBO series.

The other side of the coin: a person who is new to tarot but is a Game of Thrones geek could learn to read the cards really quickly! Liz has identified the archetypes so well, it would be a breeze (and so much fun) to learn with this deck.

Sample Reading

And now the really important stuff: we have a Game of Thrones themed tarot deck; I think you guessed what my first question was!

“Who will sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the series?”

I got the Two of Cups.

We have learned from the show not to trust prophecies, and I don’t want to give ideas to George R. R. Martin for whom to kill off next… But I think we all have our guesses which characters this card represents! I don’t know how you’ll pull it off, but best of luck guys! The night is dark and full of terrors, winter has come, so let there be Fire and Blood!

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Published by Chronicle Books LLC
Written by Liz Dean – She doesn’t need an introduction, with many high quality books and decks behind her name. Check out her website here.
Illustrated by Craig Coss, an award winning San Francisco Bay Area illustrator. Check out his site here.
ISBN: 978-1-4521-6434-2
Release date 20 March 2018