This deck has just arrived at Larch Towers so bear with me, I haven't spent a whole lot of time with it but I thought I'd give you a 'first impressions' review because I suspect this is going to be one of those popular ones. The other reason that I feel able to review it early doors is that this is mainly RWS, with a few notable exceptions, one of which we'll discuss. However, it is one that I felt able to dive right in with, no guide book reading necessary. Which is just as well as I don't speak French and the whole guide book is in French. So this deck really presents the reader with the challenge; can you read the deck, just the deck?
Let's jump in with the art work. You might recognise this style especially if you're familiar with Tarot of the Abyss, as the art work is the hand of Ana Tourien. If you did love the Tarot of the Abyss but prefer your pictures coloured in, this is one for you. For me, I love the storytelling aspect of Ana's art and to see it in these vivid colours, in a smooth matt finish is just delightful. I included the Ace of Cups in one of the pics below, even though it's the cover art for the boxes and book because the colour of water is just stunning and it shows, the cards are just as eye-popping as the packaging.
The production values are excellent. The packaging is reminiscent of the Wild Unknown Tarot but with no slip sleeve. There's a magnetic book-style opening hard cover box with the cards enclosed in another box inside and the book on top. All can be easily retrieved using a very good quality ribbon. I watched a YouTube recently by "Tarot Readings from a Bitch" called "Let's talk about some deck boxes" where she's not too impressed with the box in a box approach. It's an entertaining rant but it's an approach which allows you as the user to decide if you want the big box or the little box or to abandon both and keep your deck in a separate pouch. It gives you the choice.
While we're on the subject of production, as I mentioned earlier, the card stock is matt and they have gold gilding on the edges. The gilding is soft and the cards are flexible enough to riffle shuffle and strong enough to overhand. They're not playing card stock but they're far from those lacerate/break your fingers stock of not so long ago. Main stream manufacturers seem to be creeping ever closer to indie-level
As you can see from the pics, the images are easy to read, even where they deviate a little from the RWS template. The 3 of Swords for example could represent the traditional heartbreak, or you might see someone thinking more deeply and focussing more intently on what's in her mind, the choice is left with the reader. There are some cards that might raise confusion such as the 3 of Batons, where the image shows only swords and no wands or batons. The meaning in the book is fine but that brings us back to the challenge for non-french speaking readers of this deck, can you read just the deck? Well, I'd say that you will probably be able to read 99% of it without any problem. And anyway, the titles are clear enough for those few cards that follow the Arthurien story rather than the RWS tradition.
Just a foot note to end: I have another Arthurian Tarot deck, which I'll be comparing with this one so look out for that review coming soon!