First of all, let me say this is a beautifully illustrated deck. The graphics are stunning, realistic in the artistic approach and well thought through. There is no difficulty in understanding what the artist had in mind when he designed these cards. The imagery is clear as well as beautiful to look at.
The suits are visibly distinguishable, as opposed to other decks. Even if you are not sure, the Minor Arcana are clearly identifiable by a color 'jewel' at the top of each card, red for wands, blue for swords, yellow/gold for cups and green for pentacles.
The deck is based on the Rider-Waite deck, with 22 Major Arcana cards and the Minor Arcana comprised of 10 numbered cards and 4 court cards each. Ciro Marchetti maintains the Page, Knight, King and Queen court cards rather than changing their associations as many recent decks have done.
The reverse design is a 'jeweled' motif reminiscent of a sunburst, and is not too busy or distracting.
Intriguing is Ciro Marchetti's inclusion of some images that appear almost to be machine-like in quality. Going over the artists notes in the front of the book is his notation "A common theme in my work is the inclusion of mechanical devices, and this continued on various cards in the Major Arcana of the Gilded Tarot. These machines, which straddle the opposing worlds of science and magic, somewhat basic of their construction and clockwork movements of gears and cogs, are of an earlier times... while not of the world of microprocessors and chips, they are nevertheless capable of wonders beyond today's technology." I found this to be interesting, and appropriate, for a modern deck of tarot cards.
The emphasis on nature is also there, in carefully included animal images, natural settings and yet, it maintains a surrealistic feel in the almost vision-like quality of some of the Major Arcana cards. The deck has a renaissance motif at work in the costumes and architecture.
The swords and cups are obviously identifiable. The wands are distinctive in their design of being metallic in appearance, topped by what at first glance appears to be a 'torc' but could also be a dual power point. The pentacle design is unique in that the design is a pentagon within a pentagon on the numbered cards and the pentacle only appears behind the King of Pentacles. The Queen holds a pentagon with the jeweled sunburst within.
All in all, the designs appeal to meditation on the cards and are easily workable by those familiar with a standard tarot deck.
The book is a basic workbook for those not familiar with tarot decks. While the notes from the artist is a nice inclusion, the material provided by Barbara Moore is good for beginners. There is a little about the actual meaning of the cards, but as always, that is dependent on the reader and what he or she sees as she uses the cards. But the cards are so clear in their message; this would make an excellent first deck.
Finally, there is the bag. Please let me add that this is an excellent touch to the gift box presentation. Besides a lovely box to keep the book and deck in, which, again, is beautiful in its design, the bag gives you someplace to store the deck. It is an Organdy bag and I found that it was great to prevent the cards from sliding around in the box once I put the deck in the bag, and makes a handy carrying case as I showed the deck around to a few reader friends of mine, and also used the deck at one of my tarot reading. My clients were complimentary about the deck, and my fellow readers thought the deck was beautiful and well done.
All in all, if you are looking for a deck to give as a gift, or to add to your collection, or if you are looking for a first deck for yourself, this gift box would be a good choice. boudica