First of all, the presentation of this deck is absolutely gorgeous. You can have a virtual look at the artist's website. The outside box is made of a very sturdy cardboard and has velcro closure on the side. This is meant as a lovely and enduring way to house the deck, not as a cheap throwaway. When the box is opened, you will find that it is printed on the inside as well. The deck is in its own decorated well, but it also has its own box. This is a very nice feature for those who want to carry the deck without bringing along the whole package. Overall, this is a very well-designed and presented package.
The deck and book definitely live up to the promise of the packaging. Initially, I wasn't sure about the whole idea of illustrating major arcana with couples, but Kris's attributions are well thought out and add new dimensions to the card meanings. For example, I love Shahrazade as the High Priestess. She spins out her tales, one section at a time to save her own neck. A very unique secret-keeper! Her lover, Shahriyar, seems to represent us, sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for the wonderful knowledge we seek to be revealed a bit at a time. I also love Romeo and Juliet as Tradition (Hierophant). The card depicts Romeo and Juliet with the Friar. What is more important - the tradition of family conflict or the promise of love fulfilled, as represented by the Friar? Their choice is clear. The illustrations are beautiful and passionate.
The Minor Arcana are equally beautiful. I find them to be richer in content than the Goddess Tarot, which Kris Waldherr also illustrated. Each suit shows the love story of one of the Major Arcana couples. Cups show Tristan and Isolde, Staves show Siegfried and Brunhilde, Arrows (Swords) depict Cupid and Psyche, and Coins (Pentacles) show Zeus and Danae. Once again, Kris's choices add layers of meaning to the cards. I especially like the 7 of Cups, in which Isolde considers all the choices she might make while also imagining a kiss from her lover. The 4 of Coins shows a daydreaming Danae in her tower. One of the pentacles covers her genital area (not blatantly), keeping her closed off from having a lover. Although she is not closed off by her own will, this card elegantly conveys the same idea.
The court cards are of the same high quality and feature characters from the same story followed through the pip cards of the same suit. I especially love the Cups courts with the phases of the moon in the night sky behind them. I also enjoy Psyche as the Princess of Arrows, dancing through the air with butterflies around her.
The book is of the same high quality as the deck. The pages are all in color on a thick glossy paper. Each page contains a smaller full-color version of each card. Descriptions of each major take up 2 pages each, while the minors get 1 page each. There are spreads to try in the back, along with a quick reference guide. The spreads are replicated with less description on the spread scroll included with the set.
This deck is a wonderful addition to anyone's tarot collection. Though I suspect it would be most effective for relationship and love questions, I think that it would do well for any kind of reading. The presentation can't be beat, and the artwork is lovely and well-planned. I highly recommend this deck.
Should you purchase the special edition, you get really nice extras like a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity, a signed print of Beatrice and Amor, and a signed extra card called Artistry. The extra card comes in its own little gauze bag (pity it's not big enough for the whole deck) and a small explanation sheet. It's well worth getting the limited edition for these wonderful extras and the collectibility (and it's not that much more than the standard edition). The special edition can be purchased directly from the artist.
Copyright K. Mayberry. Not to be used without permission.
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