Amber Tarot Reviews
Mab, Oberon and other leaders of the Fae feature in the sumptuous major arcana of this French tarot deck, while the court card characters are drawn from Amber, a sci-fi fantasy series. The minor arcana of the Amber Tarot are, unfortunately, plain pip cards.
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - Descartes (France)
Review by Solandia
The Amber Tarot is a French-published RPG (role playing game) deck, based upon a fantasy series by Roger Zelazny. I loved its artwork as soon as I opened the box. The quality of the exquisitely blended, muted, greens, blues and pinks was incredible. I grew more excited as I continued looking through the major arcana. It looked like it was an amazing deck...
I flipped past the World card, onto the Ace of Cups. It, too, was almost indescribably beautiful. Then I saw the Two of Cups and my heart sank. I shuffled a few cards further through the Cups, then the Swords, hoping it wasn't true. The minor arcana were undecorated pip cards! Only the fully illustrated court cards, each represented by a character from the Amber series, relieved the plainness of the minors.
I wanted this deck to be my favourite. The majors were gorgeous. The aces, even better. But the plain pips were such a let down, especially as they have a white background and are literally the same symbol printed over and over.
I should not have been surprised, as being a French tarot deck, it does follow the Marseilles tradition of plain pip cards. (Decorated minors are attributed to be an invention of Pamela Colman-Smith, when she created the art for the Rider-Waite Tarot in the early twentieth century, as she was the first to include scenes on the 56 'unimportant' cards.) But I'm just not a fan of Marseilles-type decks. Though the contrast between the everyday details of life and the more spiritual major arcana is marked, I like illustrations on all the cards. I feel that the deck might as well only have 42 cards in it, for all the good the numbered pip cards do for visual stimulation. I realise some people find them evocative of memorised meanings, but they don't do it for me.
On the good side, le Tarot Ambre does come with a little white book, but it is in French. Or in this case, it is a medium white book. A glossy, black and white, 128 page book explains in French how to use the cards. It offers spreads as well as card meanings. Each card is pictured with a description: a paragraph and keywords for the major arcana, just keywords for the minor arcana. Reversed meanings are given throughout. Both book and cards are packaged in a moulded plastic case, slightly wider than a video case. The cards themselves are high quality, printed on flexible, thin cardstock with no burrs on the edges.
I adore the illustrated artwork in the Amber Tarot. I might see if I can get used to the unadorned minors.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.