The Bottom Line
Not only is this a good deck for fans of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, it's also not bad for beginning Tarot readers. The artwork is detailed and full of symbolism, and each card has text on it which indicates what aspect of the human experience is being represented. If you're looking for pictures of Peter Jackson's hobbits, you'll be disappointed, but if you want artwork that captures the spirit of Tolkien's vision, the LOTR deck might be right up your alley. Die-hard Tolkien fans may be disappointed by some of the character assignments.
- The meaning of each card is immediately apparent, thanks to text labels.
- The artwork is reasonably faithful to the books, which is great for Tolkien fans.
- Characters are consistently drawn from one card to another.
- Some character connections seem baffling, such as Saruman as the Hierophant.
- A few images are from the Silmarillion, not the LOTR trilogy.
- Some card interpretations deviate from traditional Tarot meanings.
- Beware a few puzzling choices of characters to represent the Tarot meanings.
- Deck has a very dark, gloomy feel to the artwork -- as fitting for Tolkien's stories.
- This deck has a strong, masculine feel to it, which makes it nice for readings on male querents.
- Don't bother trying to play the game which accompanies this deck, it's puzzling and not really that entertaining.
Guide Review - Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck
I first read Tolkien's famous trilogy -- as well as The Hobbit -- nearly thirty years ago, so finding a deck based on these stories was a treat for me.
The artwork is well done, although a bit small. This is due, in part, to the deck also being labeled as a game, so there are some odd visual quirks in some of the cards. That aside, the drawings are heavy with symbolism, and there's significant attention to even the small details. The pictures are generally dark and gloomy, which seems fitting for Middle Earth, and there are very few bright sunshiny sort of cards.
Each card has text at the bottom, explaining the meaning. For example, the Judgment card features a picture of Gandalf and Frodo at Bag End, and the text says "Gandalf reveals to Frodo the nature of the forces around him." -- not a bad starting point for looking at the Judgment card. If you're a Tarot reader who relies primarily on your own intuitive abilities to read the cards, you may find the text blocks a bit distracting or even limiting.
Some of the selections of characters for the cards left me perplexed. For example, Gollum is depicted as the Fool. Because the Fool traditionally represents someone who is at a crossroads in their life, about to embark on new adventures, it seemed that Frodo might have made a better Fool. Likewise, the choice of Belladonna Took, Galadriel and Rose Gamgee seem an odd trifecta to represent the Empress. Not only that, the back side of the deck shows a pair of rings, and I don't recall any point in the book where "two rings" was significant. Just the ONE ring, or the three elf rings, etc.
Die-hard fans of Tolkien's work may find this a disappointing deck, simply because the stories of some of the characters seem wrongly assigned to the traditional card meanings. Despite its flaws, this deck is a nice addition to a Tarot collection.