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on 2 May 2010
The author's stated intention in writing this book is "preparing the novice Tarot reader for working with the cards", and to offer food for thought to the more seasoned Tarot readers. The book is divided into three distinct sections: - 1. Preludes, which looks at various aspects and correspondences including finding card meanings, reversed cards, and a code of ethics for Tarot readers.
2. Readings - numerous three-card readings and a Celtic Cross.
3. Two appendices, giving explanations of all the cards and card/reading cross references.

Ricklef has devoted 140 of the 269 pages to three-card readings (and the Celtic Cross), making for a very rich and varied feast. The three-card readings are a compilation of Ricklef's 'Ask Knight Hawk' column in an American Tarot newsletter, written as though people from history, literature and myth are requesting Tarot advice about their problems, e.g. Einstein asks for guidance over his conflict about whether or not to return to Germany; King Midas asks for help once he realizes that turning everything he touches into gold has landed him with major problems; Abel's (of Biblical fame) worries about his brother Cain's possible plans to harm him. For each reading, Ricklef has reframed the question - sometimes more, sometimes less - into three parts which are tailored to the individual, then draws three cards at random and interprets them. This strategy demonstrates very ably to the (book)reader just how the card meanings can be applied in 'real'-life situations, as well as implying the importance of the Tarot reader's willingness to be flexible.

A further point worthy of note is that the author has used modern English language throughout, in spite of the time period in which the questioner lived, thus making his work very accessible and relevant in the present day. Throughout the book he has used a number of different decks, showing pictures of the cards drawn for each reading. It's possible that some newcomers to the Tarot may feel confused initially about which deck they would like to work with, but it also means that they have a glimpse into the variety of decks that are to be had.

With regard to the meanings of the 78 cards themselves, Ricklef states that he "felt it was virtually obligatory to discuss the meanings of the 78 cards in a book targeted mainly at beginning Tarot readers" (p.xi). This is reflected in the fact that he has done so in a 56-page appendix rather than at the beginning of the book. This does seem to suggest that Ricklef wasn't 100% sure of who his main target audience was in writing this book - an appendix almost suggests an after-thought. The doubt over his target audience is also reflected in that the first 61 pages (Prelude) are all about different aspects of the Tarot, as mentioned earlier in this review, thus throwing the newcomer in at the deep end, so to speak; and it begs the question of whether the author has perhaps tried to address too many issues in a book aimed mainly at beginners.

One important aspect of being a Tarot reader that many authors have failed to address is that of a code of Ethics. Ricklef offers his own outstanding 11-point code which every reader who hasn't already got their own could adopt or modify to suit their own circumstances.

All-in-all, this is an excellent book and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone with an interest in the Tarot. Do I think that the author has delivered what he set out to achieve? Absolutely. In fact, I am left feeling that I have partaken in a huge banquet!
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on 21 March 2010
I bought this book because I had no idea how other Tarot readers read the cards and I am very glad I bought it.

James Ricklef's writing style is friendly, easy to understand and rich in detail. He covers many topics such as 'Court cards', 'finding card meanings', 'reversed cards', 'rephrasing the question', 'putting it all together' and much more. I don't think he misses anything out! I particularly appreciated learning James' formula for reading and understanding reversed cards.

James then presents many example three card Tarot readings that cover a wide range of questions with characters from history myth and fiction, such as Beauty and the Beast, Cain and Abel and McBeth so you can further understand how to read the cards and how to put them all together. The example readings are fun to read, easy to understand and very enlightening to read and include detailed black and white illustrations of the cards. James uses the traditional Rider-Waite deck throughout the book.

I highly recommend this book. To read it feels as though you are sitting with a friendly and experienced Tarot mentor.

ETA: I highly recommend the new Tarot student starts with 'Tarot Card Meanings: Fundamentals' and 'Tarot Card Meanings: Interpretations' - By Paul Foster Case.
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on 10 August 2010
This book is both informative and well writen. I have recently studied seven or eight books on this subject, and this one seems to be the one I keep coming back to. The only mild criticism is that it could stick to the Rider-Waite deck and employ some more illustrations for the definitions. Others will view this as a great opportunity to experience other decks. But this will in no way hinder readers that are more advanced in their study of Tarot. It is also fair to say that this whole subject hinges on an element of intuition and perhaps this writer speaks specifically to me, but I'd be slightly more inclined to suggest that his insights strike an interesting balance where some other writers tend to slant towards their own variations and stray from the obvious. There is much to be said from having a handful of references to hand for refreshing your Tarot knowledge on the way, but not having this particular book amoung them would be a shame. It's a very clear, concise and thoughtful book. I highly recommend it.
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on 8 January 2015
This is a really interesting book if you are trying to understand how to put across a reading. I loved reading this.
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on 27 July 2014
Enjoyed this book and found it interesting to read
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on 14 November 2014
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