- Publisher: U.S. Games Systems Inc.; Cards edition (October 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1572814136
- ISBN-13: 978-1572814134
- Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 1.2 x 4.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 273 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot Cards – October 1, 2003
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Count the stars on the empress in this deck and you will count only 11. In my mind, that means the artist reproducing didn't understand the symbolism and therefor overlooked the count. They are the months of the year, the zodiac, and other things of the worldly cycles. This makes the deck a faulty product in my opinion. What other small yet important symbolic details have been omitted here? Who knows, but tarot is a language of symbols and to omit them for whatever reason makes the deck suspect from a quality assurance mindset at the very least.
As many folks have pointed out, these cards are brilliantly, beautifully colored--they are jewel-like and lovely from that standpoint. But when I first bought mine and laid them out, I also noticed two other things:
(1) Yep, they were stinky! As others have noted, a little airing-out quickly solves this problem.
(2) They just seemed *different* somehow. The first and most obvious difference is that the original hand-lettering of the card titles is gone, replaced by a clean type font on wider white borders, which lends the cards a more modern feel. The second difference, which took me a few moments to realize, is that these drawings are *not* those of the "original"-style Rider-Waite decks. Pamela Colman Smith ("Pixie") drew specific facial expressions and informed many of the characters' poses and attitudes with subtle line choices. This deck has been redrawn and simplified -- to my eye, it has an almost cartoonish look. (One could perhaps more charitably equate these as similar to a stained-glass rendering; outlines and figures are simplified, and many subtle line nuances are gone, in favor of the boldness of the coloring.) In quiet acknowledgment of the alterations, US Games has removed Pixie's signature from each card and has noted that the deck is "based on drawings by Pamela Colman Smith."
I point this out only because I think it's important to note that the coloring is *not* the only alteration made to these cards. If you have an earlier edition of this deck, you will notice the differences -- you may love them or hate them depending on your attachment to Pixie's original work. If this is your first Rider-Waite-Smith deck, you will be working with a different artistic style than the originals, although as others have pointed out the symbolism remains pretty much intact and, if you like the art style, the deck will be perfectly suitable. If you're not sure which version of the deck you'd like to purchase, I'd suggest looking at examples side-by-side online, or if possible, at your friendly local tarot shop. The differences in the drawings are noticeable throughout the deck, but specific cards for useful comparison are The Empress, The Emperor, The Lovers, and Justice. Take a look and see which style you prefer before you buy.
A final note on color: There are of course many versions of the RWS deck, and about 20 years ago US Games came out with the "Universal Waite" colored by Mary Hanson-Roberts. Early printings of this version are quite softly shaded, almost pastel, and some tarot enthusiasts find them too "wishy washy." I recently bought a more recent printing because I am away from home, and found that this new printing has much brighter, more emphatic colors -- I consider them closer to those in the Radiant deck than to those in the earlier pastel Universal deck. If you like the drawing style of the "original Rider-Waite" deck but prefer brighter colors, the Universal might be your thing. Its colors are *not* quite as rich as the Radiant deck (the Radiant's yellows have a lovely infusion of deep orange, and its reds and blues are much deeper), but it *is* much richer than the old Universal printings. I hope this makes sense. Again, in-person comparison is probably your best bet.
I enjoy my Radiant deck -- the colors merit the name and beautifully so. But I love my Universal decks -- Pixie's drawings are faithfully represented and Hanson-Roberts' recoloring draws the eye into them, highlighting symbolism and providing an aesthetic touchstone that earlier editions could be argued to have lacked. I hope this helps you as you decide which version to adopt as your own.