I felt that it was about time that I started doing those reviews I’ve been teasing for a while. At present, I have a large number of decks, the majority of which are part of my personal collection, with a smaller number purchased to showcase the wide variety available. So without further ado, please enjoy the first in a series of reviews.
- What is the Deck?
Today’s deck is the Labyrinth Tarot, featuring the art of one of my favourite Fantasy Artists: Luis Royo. He has a wonderful ethereal feeling to his work.
The publishing house for this deck is Fournier, and this deck is readily available online.
- What does it look like?
The front of the box features a picture of a woman holding a blue card, but interestingly this image is not featured on the deck itself. Upon opening the deck, the first thing to draw my eye is the choice of bronze for the back of the cards and the borders on the front. Each card has a picture in the middle, framed with a black border that is, itself, surrounded by a thicker bronze one. In the corners are the names of the cards in multiple languages, and the roman numeral where applicable for each one.
It is worthy of note that these cards do contain nudity; nothing that would be considered pornographic, however, it’s worth being aware of this if you are considering buying a new deck and would feel uncomfortable with this.
- How does it feel in the hand (size and materials)?
In terms of size, the cards themselves are slightly narrower but also approximately 1cm taller than a deck of standard playing cards. They are made from decent quality card stock, with a nice feel to them. The cards aren’t overly glossy like I have seen in other decks, and they slide over each other effortlessly.
Even for somebody with fairly small hands like myself, they are easy to shuffle horizontally but are rather unwieldy to shuffle vertically, even though that would allow you to hold them on the narrower side.
- What stands out about it?
For me, the fact that it has art from an artist I know and love was my main reason for getting this deck. Although there are a lot of interesting features in its design that I feel are worth noting.
Let’s look at the Major Arcana first: They all feature a very muted colour scheme, which is fairly common with Royo’s art. The cards are numbered with Roman numerals, with the exception of the Fool card, which is labelled with a zero. The other interesting detail is the omission of number 21, with the World instead bearing number 22. Looking at the booklet confirmed this is deliberate, and not a case of a missing card. There is no reason given for this, and as such we are left to speculate. Considering the liberal use of Astrological symbols as highlights I can only assume it’s a reference to Numerology and the idea of Master Numbers.
For the Minor Arcana, the first thing to draw my attention was the colour schemes, as they are a bit of a departure from what you’d expect. Red is usually linked to the element of Fire and would typically be reserved for the suit of wands. Here, Royo has swapped the cups’ usual colour of green for red and instead it’s the wands who have the green hue. However, the departure from tradition doesn’t stop there, with the replacement of the ‘Page’ court card in favour of a Jack, each with a female figure instead of a young male. Unfortunately there is no clear reason for this change, but it is becoming increasingly common in more modern decks for the page court cards to be replaced with alternatives.
- What do I like about this deck?
If you’ve read this far, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that I am a huge fan of the art style. Other than that, I do enjoy decks that have their own little twists. The choices of the colours for the minor arcana are, to me, interesting, but a little jarring.
If I was newer to reading the cards, I would find the change of colour less noteworthy. Still, I like the decision, as I would argue that it makes things a bit more accessible. Red is more strongly associated with relationships; the area governed by the suit of cups than its usual green. As for the wands sporting this colour, well, green has strong links to creativity, so it is a good fit for the suit of Wands – which is about our hobbies and the things we enjoy.
- What would I change about it?
To be honest, there’s not much I don’t like. I would prefer that the cards were less narrow – although that’s very much an issue of personal preference. The other thing I prefer is when it’s not obvious from the back of the card if it’s reversed or not. At first glance, the back of the card looks symmetrical but there are some minor details that would give a reversed card away.
Personally, I feel this could subconsciously influence the reading, but again it’s very much a matter of personal preference.
The one thing I really don’t like would be the booklet that comes with the cards. The layout and formatting is rather odd and hard to follow and is the one thing that I find really irritating.
- How easy is it to use?
I would actually consider this to be a good deck for a novice or experienced reader who likes the fantasy art genre. The Minor Arcana cards are simple in design but effective in their evocation of standard playing cards. Plain backgrounds with the number of cups, wands, swords or pentacles respectively, make it easy to identify the card at a glance, and the roman numeral at the top makes it easy to tell if it’s upright or reversed.
The jump from 20 to 22 can give the impression that a card is missing, but is more likely a deliberate decision relating to the importance of the ‘Master Numbers’ in Numerology than a technical error. Another interesting detail was the omission of the card’s name from the Death card. Instead, it is only identified by the roman numeral for 13 and the picture stands on its own.
- Is it beginner-friendly?
It’s not an overly ‘busy’ deck in its style or design and has some little details that would lend themselves to further study for anyone so inclined. The only thing I’d warn about is the booklet, but this can easily be replaced by your own reference materials created by you as you learn.
- Would you recommend it and why?
I would recommend it for those starting out, for the reasons stated above.
For those with more experience, I would say if you like the art style and don’t mind a simplistic design for the minor arcana it could be a good fit.
It’s reasonably priced, and it’s easily picked up online alongside other decks featuring the artist’s work.
- What’s your overall impression?
Overall I really want to like this deck, and I feel it’s a real shame that there’s so many minor things that niggle at me personally as a reader.
The art on the Major Arcana cards is simply stunning and the Minor Arcana cards, while simple, are very pleasing to look at. They are, however, a little on the basic side for my taste.
That being said, the deck has more positives than negatives. So yes, I like d it and would recommend it to others.
*Please note, that all pictures included were taken by myself and feature my copy of the deck*