Review by Bonnie Cehovet
I was getting fussy about this book before I even started reading it. Why? Because I had agreed to review it in digital format. I have done this before, but it is not fun. Now, I do like the digital format – I have the computer version of Kindle on my laptop, and do like using it, but for review purposes – I really prefer a print book. However, once I got into the book, I devoured it as fast as I could! I am going to get the print version, just because I want to read it again, and I want to feel it in my hands!
The book is more like an ancient parable than a work of fiction – i.e. something read for entertainment purposes only. The narrator for this book is Acellus, the Creators scribe, and the first Angelic Being. He has been instructed by the Creator to gaze across the void and record what he sees in what we know as the first earth (we are now in the second earth). This material is presented in a series of three books – Part I – The Beginning, Part II – Bloodlines, and Part II – Dante.
The story revolves around the six year reign of the first evil King – the King of Clubs. This is the time of the original struggle between good and evil. The action takes place in three realms: (1) the Forest of Cards, where mankind’s virtues reside (in the form of the archetypes of the Tarot Major Arcana), (2) the earthly realm of the King of Clubs, and (3) the realm of the Keepers, the ones who read the Tarot cards.
The forces of Darkness and Light are focused on two beings who are going to shape mankind and the second earth to some: the Lady Justice and the Jack of Diamonds. The Lady Justice represents moral virtue, coming from the Forest of Cards, and the auspices of the Hermit and Temperance. The Jack of Diamonds is the son of the King of Clubs and the Queen of Diamonds, an outlaw that was thought to have been murdered as a baby.
The storyline revolves around three generations – the King of Clubs, his wives – the Queen of Diamonds (whom he has murdered), mother to his son, the rebel Jack of Diamonds, and the Queen of Spades, mother to his second son, the Ace of Spades, and his grandsons – Dante, son of the Jack of Diamonds and the Lady Justice, and Lucian, son of the Ace of Spades and the Lady Arabella of Saxon.
The court titles follow those of regular playing cards, as opposed to the court titles of the Minor Arcana. The titles of the virtues – or archetypes – are those of the traditional Major Arcana. The soldiers, for the most part, carry the numbers 4 through 10, rather than names.
I found the Keepers to be interesting. For the major portion of this book, the Keeper was Augustinian. He was the caretaker for the book entitled Keepers of the Tarot, where the keepers recorded their readings of the Tarot cards, and the caretaker of the (Tarot) cards. The blank card in this special deck was destined to become the card of Justice (Lady Justice). The Keeper would draw and place the cars that would tell the story. He was followed by a female Keeper, Aurora.
From the Forest of Cards, where the archetypes lived as immortals, the Hermit would see the visions and tell the story. Through entering the pond and crossing the portal to earth, the immortals could change mankind’s history. This was the fight between the Dark Forces, with Death as their emissary, and the Forces of Light, with the Hermit as their emissary.
The archetypes are seen with all of their qualities – good and bad. It was surprising for me to see the Star, the Magician, and the Hanged Man portrayed as aligned with the forces of Darkness, but it does move the story along, and if they are not well aspected, the negative qualities do belong to these archetypes. It was also interesting to see the Fool go from his “idiot” self to crossing the portal to earth, taking a wife and becoming counselor to the King, along with his wife.
It was more understandable to see the Chariot cross over and show his positive qualities as a military leader, and a leader of men.
The ending of this book was not one that I particularly cared for, but it did set the scene, as it were, for a sequel with battles on two fronts – between Dante as King and Lucian, who feels he should be King, and Lucian and his older brother Drake, who feels that he should be on the throne.
Hemsey has a good grasp of the Tarot, of the qualities of the virtues, and of esoteric thought in general. This is a well written, well paced book that makes credible transitions between the three realms, and between differing times. It is much more than a nice fiction read based on the Tarot – it is interesting, and thought provoking.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.