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Game of Thrones Tarot
Deck and Guidebook
by Liz Dean, illustrated by Craig Coss

I came to Game of Thrones a bit late. I tend to be skeptical of things that are so highly rated, assuming that they'll be, in fact, overrated. But, when everyone at my husband's office was watching - and talking about - Thrones, we finally decided to check it out. So, yeah, we were hooked fairly immediately...! I mean, within the first ten minutes or so. We ended up binge-watching the first few seasons, catching up to what was currently airing (I think it was season five), and of course, we became fans, even wearing GoT t-shirts and buying some (really nice) pint glasses. For Christmas, our daughter's boyfriend gave us an autographed copy of the cookbook written for the show, also very nice - A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook, by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, and we started holding Thrones-themed dinners, the dining room table bedecked in appropriate colors and settings. When I saw there would be a Game of Thrones Tarot, I pre-ordered it. I tend to miss out on these things and wanted to be sure I was able to get this one.
Game of Thrones Tarot When the deck was released, the show was of course not airing (while we fans tried to wait patiently for the next season; right). But I could still get excited about the deck; and I actually almost bought a second set. The artwork immediately appealed to me, as did the packaging - a nice sturdy box, with sturdy compartments inside (so the cards won't shift around all over the place), and ribbons for easy removal of cards and book. The cards themselves are a nice linen-feel stock, easy and comfortable to shuffle. The style of the artwork and design of the cards are very well-suited to the show. Characters depicted on the cards are close representations of the characters we see on TV. Much of the imagery and symbolism is initially quite dark, which although might possibly be out of place on some of the cards traditionally, does convey the overall true feeling of the show. There is certainly positive reflected here as well.

The guidebook (which is very small, hardcover, and fairly adorable), states, "The creative team behind this deck dug deep into these two worlds," of tarot and Game of Thrones, "to find the overlapping characters, story arcs, and symbolism. We intertwined them into a unique tarot that evokes the vivid dramas of Game of Thrones while offering rich oracular cues for the serious tarot reader." I would say they've succeeded in this precise goal. I'm not sure I would have chosen every character for the cards in quite the same way, but I think in each case it works. We start by seeing Tyrion Lannister as the Fool. In many ways this is an appropriate choice, and as a favorite character for many, he makes a perfect start to the seventy-eight cards. Following him, we see Littlefinger as the Magician... not exactly who I would choose, simply because he is a character we seriously cannot trust, so in my mind he brings too much of a particularly negative element to the Magician card that I'm not crazy about. But, it can work... Of the Magician, author Liz Dean writes, "Spymaster Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish is the Magician, manipulating others to his will. He wears rings on both little fingers, signifying Mercury, planet of communication. On the red screen behind him are the lemniscate, or infinity symbol, plus the four suit symbols; the sword is represented by Catspaw, a dagger of Valyrian steel. As number I, the Magician stands for the individual and the ego, the 'I.' Littlefinger incites war and commits murder to create chaos, his 'ladder' to power. He feigns powerlessness to get people to trust him but, as Lord Varys says, Littlefinger 'is one of the most dangerous men in Westeros.' An arch manipulator, driven to succeed while others suffer the impact of his lies, he reflects both the upright and reversed meanings of the tarot Magician." Another example is the Moon, which is represented by the moon door - Lysa Arryn's cruel and sadistic form of punishment (and execution). This is where I feel the deck has been designed a little more for fans of the show than for enthusiasts of tarot. Although enough reason for associating the card with the moon door is given, it still feels like a stretch to me. For the vast majority of the cards however, I do easily agree with the choices, and of course, there are some cards that really stand out to me personally. As I already mentioned, Tyrion for the Fool; as well as Samwell Tarly for Temperance, Ramsay Bolton as the Devil (possibly obvious, but effective), Sansa Stark for the Star, and of course, a map of Westeros for the World.

The four suits of the Minor Arcana are Swords, Cups, Spears, and Coins; and Court cards are Page, Knight, Queen, and King. Scenes inspired by the show are very effectively depicted in the Minor Arcana cards. These cards generally follow Rider-Waite-Smith, and in many cases could be interchangeable with them. The guidebook helpfully specifies what each card represents from the show, and provides key meanings, upright meanings, and reversed meanings.

Game of Thrones Tarot - XIV - TemperanceGame of Thrones Tarot - Ace of Coins As in many theme decks (especially based on something with such a sizeable fandom), there are countless ways the characters or locales could have been represented among the cards, and there are countless expectations of thousands of fans! But overall the choices make sense, they are very well explained, and importantly, they work in readings. The cards are beautiful, and more than other fan merchandise they effectively evoke some of the feeling we may get from watching the show - and if we're feeling nostalgic once the final season ends, we can turn to these cards to revisit the characters and their stories.

The guidebook itself is very well written and presented. Liz Dean was a good choice to author this set, as she can very clearly teach beginners the important basic aspects of reading - from how to shuffle and lay out cards to how to interpret based on standard meanings and intuition. Her writing, in this case, also brings just the right depth to a tarot deck based on a TV show, that will likely have among its users many people not already interested in or very familiar with tarot. Her writing is concise, but insightful, and always enjoyable. Although very small, the guidebook is comprehensive. The spreads original to this deck are fun and definitely Game of Thrones inspired.

I have done quite a few readings with the set, both very short readings and longer, involved ones, and in each case the cards have felt like apt messengers. It has been easy to connect with the deck, and accuracy has been spot-on.

The Game of Thrones Tarot is a set I would highly recommend for any fan of the television show. Honestly, I love Game of Thrones (watching and reading), and I love this tarot set. I likely will buy that second set.


Game of Thrones Tarot - Four of Spears Game of Thrones Tarot - Queen of Cups Game of Thrones Tarot - Nine of Swords



Read user reviews or purchase online at Amazon:
Game of Thrones Tarot at Amazon

Excerpts by Liz Dean, card artwork by Craig Coss

Visit the author's website: Liz Dean
Visit the artist's website: Craig Coss







All writing and photography © Nellie Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2019