Deck Review: Game of Thrones Tarot
I saw "Game of Thrones" along with the entire world when it first came out in 2011. But when Season 2 rolled in, I just couldn't get on it and I stayed away from the show for a couple of years. Fast forward to 2017, when, at the start of the year, I decided to take the show up again and went on a serious bender, going back to Season 1 all the way to the seventh season in just a few days. Mind! Blown!
When this deck was announced last year, I was high on the finale of the eighth season and totally into it. Even if they had killed off my favorite Robb Starck (apologies for the spoilers, guys… but doesn't everyone know about the Red Wedding at this point?), I was absolutely invested in the show and knew I needed to have this. Just because.
The box went up on Book Depository about a month before my birthday this year, and so I went ahead and ordered it as a gift to myself. It came right in time—exactly the day before my birthday, I got my parcel notice in the mail!
The deck is well packaged, for the most part. The box is sturdy and opens up into a container with slots for the cards and a hardbound mini-guidebook. The cards are finished in linen, making them super easy to shuffle (just like your run of the mill playing card deck), but also a little difficult to photograph because of the ridges on the paper.
I'm familiar with Liz Dean because she's behind Fairy Tale Fortune Cards, which I picked up and was my gateway back into cartomancy and tarot. Her language was easy to pick up and understand, so I knew that she would do a good job of creating parallels between the GOT Universe and the tarot.
I don't turn to guidebooks a lot, but this one is succinct enough to merit a look (even when I'm super impatient). It helps newbies understand the character choices per card and breaks meanings down into quick catchphrases, anecdotes, as well as upright and reversed definitions. It's easy to pick up on the card meanings without the book, but it's nice to have something to turn to in case you have a little more time to delve deeper.
I'm the type of sci-fi / fantasy viewer that forgets everything as soon as the movie or show is over, so this is pretty helpful.
Opinions are pretty split on the card backs but I like them. I'm also very into the stylized illustrations—block prints look old world-y and pretty appropriate for the GOT Universe. And of course the map has to make its way into the Major Arcana as The World!
It's so much fun to see my favorite (and not so favorite) characters make their way into the Minor Arcana. I have to say though that there are a lot of repeats (Jon Snow keeps! coming! up!—and sure, he's a major player—perhaps the major player—but still). The depictions are Rider-Waite Smith-based, but some scenes are exactly the way they came up on the series. I'm sure GOT geeks will be able to pick them out of all the 78 cards (I'm not that big of a fan…).
There's nothing more appropriate for the tarot court than a TV show that has pretty much all the archetypes. That said, I'm left in want of other people to show up in the cards. I'm thinking there are probably licensing issues and contracts that prevent the entire cast from appearing in the deck, which is pretty easy to forgive.
I think the big question with regard to the Game of Thrones Tarot is whether it'll remain a novelty deck or will be something that any reader can use regularly (as in the Zombie Tarot or the Housewives Tarot). For now, I'm sticking to novelty—I haven't read the books or seen the series multiple times to merit back-of-the-hand knowledge of the characters and stories. I can imagine though that superfans who don't know anything about the 78 cards could very well use this as a gateway into the world of tarot—and once everything clicks, it's possible that they could stick to this deck without feeling like they have to find another one.
Licenses and official business aside, I'm thinking that the fandom could probably come up with a better deck. But for $24 + all the bells and whistles this one comes with? You really can't go wrong with this version. I can only imagine this making its way back into the limelight once the show returns for its final season next year!