Five books of speculative fiction with Tarot

The history of the tarot as a divination tool dates back to the late 18th century, and its use as a deck of cards goes back centuries further; It is not surprising that genre writers have repeatedly incorporated tarot and tarot analogues into their works. While there’s a lot of fun in characters consulting a fortune teller or fortune teller offering up crucial information at a key moment, some writers have gone deeper. Here are five works of genre fiction that incorporate tarot or a tarot analogue into the world-building of their novels.

aspects by John M. Ford

The world of Ford’s last unfinished novel worships the Goddess rather than God, and is said to have four aspects and four companions (who are actually part of Her). Little by little it becomes clear that the sacred Book of this religion is a 78-card deck of fortune-telling: giving thanks, at meals and at farewells, involves shuffling a deck and drawing two cards, leaving those gathered to find out their meaning and how relates to them.

Probably unintentionally, reading aspects it requires readers to undertake a similar work of interpretation. As it stands, the novel follows Coron Varic, a reformist member of the upper house of Parliament of the Republic of Lescoray, as he prepares for a holiday in the countryside in the company of his circle of friends. He invites his new love interest, Coron Longlight, on impulse, and the novel follows the guests’ stay at the house and then accompanies them on their various walks, mainly by train, after it ends. Do Varic and his ally Brook have enemies working against them? Will Longlight extend the railroad to his property? Will the big national exhibition that is proposed towards the end of the manuscript happen? Ford left only a series of sonnets as signposts along the track.

Thus, there are two levels at stake when the new Archimage Birch, one of the house guests, declares in a sermon that “The first thing the Book teaches is that meanings must be found and interpreted.” Like tarot, the Book’s cards have four suits, and I suspect that may be related to Ford’s planned structure for the series; the four elements and the four seasons also participate in the magic of Lescoray. Even unfinished aspects it is a masterpiece worth discovering for yourself.

New star by Samuel R. Delany

Nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel, this is one of Delany’s best and most readable books. Set in the year 3172, the novel follows Lorq Von Ray’s quest to secure supplies from the Illyrion power source. This will allow her to win his enmity with his arch-enemy and thereby shift the galactic balance of power away from Earth and towards younger polities like Von Ray’s own Pleiades Federation. New star is immensely clever on multiple levels, one being that it’s a classic Grail Quest narrative, and what’s more, the characters in the book are aware of it, arguing in-text about how to thwart the supposed fatal curse that falls on those they finish their quest stories.

In Delany’s space opera, tarot has become a mainstay of galactic society: the cards are not only widely used for games, as they are in parts of Europe today, but readings are also extremely common and They are considered scientific. As the aspiring novelist Katin tells the Mouse, a skeptic, “…cards don’t really predict anything. They simply propagate educated commentary on current situations…” Astute readers will realize that these comments describe Lorq’s entire journey, but relating the reading to the plot is part of the enjoyment.

Elementary Logic series by Laurie J Marks

Marks’ four-volume series is set in the country of Shaftal, where individuals whose nature is dominated by one of the four elements are known as elemental witches. At the beginning of the narrative, the ruler of the kingdom, an earth sorcerer, dies and the country is invaded by Sainin invaders. A dozen years later, some Shaftali insurgents and Sainn soldiers are beginning to think about giving up the fight. One Fireblood in particular, Zanja na’Tarwein, has an incomplete deck of traditional glyph cards, which she uses to help clarify her own intuition and that of her fellow Firebloods.

Glyph cards are important aside from card readings; a plot in Water Logic revolves around Zanja recovering a previously lost complete set of cards, which reveals that the Shaftali themselves were once invaders, displacing indigenous tribes like Zanja’s and forcing them into the borderlands centuries before. This revelation points to the central tension of the story: how to find a balance between Shaftali, Sainnites and the tribes in a way that acknowledges the damages of the past but allows everyone to move forward together? As you read, you can find out your own elemental balance on Mark’s website.

Murder must be announced by Dorothy L Sayers

Tarot does not appear directly in the narrative, but some of the major arcana resonate with both the themes of the novel and the themes of the series in general. Sayers’ Eighth Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery is based on Sayers’ experiences working in the advertising industry: To catch a murderer, Peter spends most of the book undercover, working in a publicity office as Death Bredon. During his investigation, he repeatedly encounters a dissolute group of “brilliant youths” led by the usually insane aristocratic Dian de Momerie.

Dian’s ranting about seeing a “hanged man” behind Peter points to the major arcana: she herself can be taken as the Moon, while Peter, disguised as a Harlequin, resonates with the Fool, the protagonist of the major arcana as well. like from the novel. On top of that, Peter is closely associated with three cards that follow each other in many decks: Justice, Hangman, and Death. I’ll leave most of these interpretations as an exercise for the reader, but it’s worth nothing that among other things the Hanged Man reminds Wodan, who hung on the tree for nine days and nights, just as Peter takes nine books to become a man. in full before he is ready to face Harriet Vane as equal in the tenth, flashy night.

The mask of mirrors Y Liar’s Knot by MA Carrick

The first two volumes of this trilogy were released last year and they are some of the most fun I’ve had in fantasy recently. Set in the city-state of Nadežra, which was conquered by the Liganti centuries ago, looting its native Vraszenians, con artist Ren finds herself caught between multiple worlds and roles when she sets out to insinuate herself into the failed noble House Traementis. Along the way, her path becomes entangled with the centuries-old outlaw Rook, and they learn that Nadežra is still being choked by an ancient danger.

One of Ren’s greatest weapons is her skill with patterns: she is a true szorsa, a reader of the sixty-card pattern deck that is a key element of Vraszenian culture and religion, and her skills are crucial to unraveling the web. that she and Nadežra are creating. caught up. Also, the titles of each book and each chapter are all those of pattern cards, and the authors even drew readings from actual cards that they incorporated into the narrative. while you wait heart of the mazewhich is scheduled for 2023, you can read more about Pattern and draw yours reading.


Let me know your picks that were left out in the comments.

electra pritchett she is a lay historian who divides her time between reading, research, and her obsession with birds and parfait. Born in New Jersey, she has lived on three continents and her studies have spanned from ancient Rome to modern Japan.

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