The Essential Guide to Tarot, by David Fontana; Watkins Publishing; Available for under £15
I had borrowed this book from my local library some years ago, and I found it to be one of the better books on the subject so when I happened to find this in The Works for a fraction of the price I had to pick up right away. Compared to others I had read, the Essential Guide to Tarot is simpler and easy to understand, and the illustrations are bright and eye-catching.
The title “Essential Guide” is somewhat misguiding, as it implies that the only book that is really needed. Like most books on a specific subject, it is also coloured by the views of its’ author. This book is written mostly around a tarot deck that David Fontana himself created, The Truth Seeker’s Tarot. The imagery follows the Rider-Waite template, but some of the images are a bit different. For example, the Death card is different in that it displays Death the Grim Reaper, while the traditional image is usually Death the Horseman, though this isn’t radically different in modern tarot imagery. But one of the more radical changes in this deck is in the Court Cards of the Minor Arcana two of the figures have been changed: the Page and Knight cards have become the Princess and Prince cards.
The reviews for this book on Amazon aren’t the best, but I think it is underrated. Like my other favourite Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner, the Essential Guide to the Tarot gives an explanation of each card with an illustration of the card with a general description with a box of keywords and the following pages has a list of the card’s details and what they mean, followed by points on historical and modern variations. Though unlike Tarot for Writers, this is only limited to the Major Arcana cards. The explanations for the Minor Arcana are short and lack details and repeats a lot of the general information, such as what Element the suites are aligned with. To make up for this lack of information on the Minor Arcana another book on the tarot is needed.
However, despite the lack of analytical explanations on the Minor Arcana, I think that the Essential Guide to the Tarot would be a good first book on tarot.
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