A tarot deck and game inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Thick borders surround the complex and busy but nicely coloured artwork, and a quote from one of the books printed on each card.
I was surprised to see that there was no review available for the Lord of the Rings Tarot, so I decided to write one myself. The Lord of the Rings Tarot, in my opinion is one of the ideal decks for the Middle-Earth enthusiasts, for that specific group this deck might be considered the ideal starter deck. Off course for the more experienced user this deck still gives excellent readings.
For those new to Tarot but familiar with Tolkiens world this deck has a lot of advantages. All the cards are inspired by the Middle-Earth mythos. For instance Death depicts Gandalf fighting the Ballrog, Lord of the rings fans understand very well what is happening here, Gandalf losing his life to make sure the fellowship can progress on its path, Gandalf himself will also be reborn as the White wizard having reached a new level in his personal progression and spiritual evolution. This scene and all of its context are immediately understood by those who know the story, therefore giving the card all of its content without having to read through booklets or delve in the immense Tarot library online.
Every card in the deck, including the minor Arcana is illustrated and linked to the Middle-Earth universe in this way. Every card also has a small piece of text on it, further explaining the cards meaning and the link to its story. Making all cards and their meaning easily accessible for the Tolkien fans, as well as a reasonably accessible for non-Tolkien enthusiasts. The cards are above medium size and of good quality. The back of the cards show the decks title in both directions making top and bottom undistinguishable. Apart from “normal” readings the cards are also usable in some sort of game, a card with rules and awarded achievements is also included. I have yet to try this game though, somehow I feel playing games with the cards diminishes the “mystical” value.
As far as I know there are two sets available and several translations (including Dutch), just the deck with a very simple booklet and a set including a very complete book and a spread-poster. The book is illustrated in black and white but includes pictures of every card, including pips and an explanation of at least one page, even several pages per card for the major cards, again linking to the Tolkien mythos.
The artwork takes some getting used to, especially for those that can’t shake the imagery from Peter Jackson's movies from their mind, and some of the artwork might also conflict with the mental picture some people have from the books. The cards are overall very colorful, though a bit dark, usually because of the dark background on the pictures. Some effort has been put in the imagery including astrological and other Hermetic symbols and concepts. Still on more then one occasion traditional Tarot imagery is put aside for more Middle-Earth content related scenes, still maintaining the cards’ meaning using the stories and concepts from the book to speak for the cards.
I have done a lot of readings with this deck. I must admit that even though reading for people familiar with the Tolkien universe works like a charm, non-Tolkien fans have a bit more difficulty identifying with the cards so I rarely use this deck reading for those people, even though the cards are much clearer for me, being a Middle-Earth fan myself, thus giving very clear readings.
In the end it is, of course, all a matter of taste, but I believe that If you are a Tolkien fan and you’re new to Tarot, this is “the” deck for you. For every other Tolkien fan, this deck simply is a must have.