I pre-ordered this deck back in September with an expected delivery date in November. Of course, as often happens, there were delays. Then all of a sudden I got a message from Amazon saying it would be delivered the 27th December. How lovely, a late Christmas present to myself, I thought. Then, it was as if the Christmas elves had been working overtime because the buzzer went at the door of Larch Towers on Christmas Eve. I ambled along to unlock and there was an unexpected parcel. I wondered what else I'd ordered and forgotten about and then realised it was the Fyodor Pavlov Tarot. So, having for the first year in a while, not treated myself to a new tarot for Christmas (it's not always worked out well) there I was with a lovely new deck to play with. And it is just that, a lovely deck. I've hardly been able to put it down but even so, this is really just a first impressions. I will warn in advance of you scrolling down the page, there is nudity in this deck so if that's not to your approval, click away now. For everyone else, let's get started.
I didn't back this as an independent deck on Kickstarter and could have kicked myself. I thought as it was so popular it would likely be made available by local distributers however Fyodor Pavlov has said in an interview that after the effort of the first kickstarter he decided to approach U.S. Games and propose a deal with them to distribute a mass market edition. I did wonder if that would water the message of the art down or just devalue it because of a lower level of quality. I can tell you now, that hasn't happened.
The quality of the production is excellent and would easily rival any independently produced deck. The card is strong and flexible linen finish playing-card like stock. It's a dream to shuffle, even though my arthritis is currently sitting in my right wrist, I can still riffle and bridge these cards and the overhand is a delight. The two-piece box and hardback full-colour guide book contribute to the higher end quality. But now to the art work.
The backgrounds are all in this delicious deep cream colour and the images are in pen and ink with highlights of watercolour. The suits follow a kind of colour coding of red for swords, blue for cups, green for wands and a golden yellow for pentacles but it doesn't stand out too much or look too formulaic. It also doesn't look washed out, as you can see with the strength of the deep pink speaking to trump number VIII, for example.
For the most part, the cards follow the traditional RWS model but there are some with different aspects of the traditional images and overall it is more diverse and in keeping with modern requirements even though the stories are clearly from a time gone by. Each image has enough to enable a one card reading but the deck is not too busy to do a bigger spread. The cards are 3x5" so a little bit taller and wider than a standard Universal Waite for example but not too big to spread out as far as your reading needs to go.
Fyodor's website says his art focuses on "motifs of history and queer sexuality" and as I noted at the top of this review, there is some nudity on the deck but it's not all the way through, just some well-chosen cards. So if this style of art is for you, then you won't be disappointed with the Fyodor Pavlov Tarot. This deck proves that the gap between mass-market and independently produced decks can be narrowed with the tarot reader receiving the greatest benefit.