Corteo cards, known also as Diambi, are an ancient set of cards and are consulted only by trained scholars for the purposes of Cartomancy, a method of divination that should not be performed by amateurs.


Four suits

Four Corteo suits

Corteo cards are similar to Tarot cards and were invented in the city of Bellona, which still produces sets of the cards are part of their industries.

Cards have four suits, representing the four elements: Fishes (water), Birds (air), Salamanders (fire), and Serpents (earth). Each suit has ten numbers and four court cards - the King, Queen, Prince, and Princess. These cards form the minor trumps.

In addition, there are twenty-two major trumps, which differ from traditional Tarot cards, though some, like the Fool, the Magician, and the Lovers are the same.

The 22 Greater TrumpsEdit

0 The Fool
1 The Magician
2 The Goddess
3 Spring Maiden
4 The Green Man
5 The God-king
6 The Lovers
7 Corn
8 The Knight
9 The Sword
10 The Spinning Wheel
11 The Book
12 The Tree
13 Death
14 Lightning
15 The Ladder
16 Moving Stars
17 The Tower
18 Moon
19 Sun
20 The Scales
21 Mandala



Rodolfo's reading

When used for divination, the cards must be laid face up and the diviners should face east. Set down twelve cards in a circle, widdershins. Place the thirteenth card face up in the centre.

The cards do not foretell the future; they suggest possible future patterns. Interpreting the patterns is a skilled business, not for amateurs. Each card can represent something literal, like a tower, or be interpreted according to a figurative or associative meaning. In addition, the entire spread of cards and the patterns it displays can often reveal more about a situation than the appearance of an individual card, though the thirteenth card will usually present an overall tone to the reading.

Rodolfo Rossi consults the cards once a month, though other diviners, like Dr. Dethridge and Flavia have done so when they believe something critical will happen. Rodolfo does not do readings for other people nor does he consult the cards to tell him what course of action to take. He lays out a reading, as he scatters his glass stones and rolls his dice, to see patterns in what is happening around him.

It is one of the many ways in which he tries to protect the Duchessa and the city. But he lacks one important piece of information when he tries to see the pattern which the cards, stones and dice try to show him at the beginning of City of Masks. Dr. Dethridge and Flavia perform the divination for similar purposes in City of Stars, City of Secrets, and City of Ships.

Other NotesEdit

Depending on how the diviners interpret each reading, certain cards have usually been attributed to a specific character or event in the series. Similar to Tarot cards, reversed cards result in the reverse of the usual interpretations associated with the card's meaning.

However, the overall pattern is also important to keep in mind; Rodolfo notices all the Fours from each suit appears in his reading, revealing something relating to the number 16 is important, and Dr. Dethridge's reading City of Stars contains all the Twos of the four suits, which he interprets is a sign of what Georgia's position will be in during the Stellata. The position of the cards in relation to another also affects meaning: Flavia interprets the position of the Princess of Fishes (Arianna) between the King of Serpents (Flavia) and Eight of Birds (self-defense) as a sign that the Duchessa of Bellezza will defend herself against the upcoming Battle of Classe.

  • The Queen of Fishes - Associated with Silvia Bellini, the Duchessa of Bellezza. The suit of Fishes represents water, which is associated with Bellezza.[1]
  • The Princess of Fishes - Associated with Arianna Rossi, as the daughter of Silvia, and later, the young Duchessa of Bellezza.[1]
  • The Magician - Usually interpreted to represent a Stravagante, though the Magician can also represent any person associated with the occult.
  • The Prince of Fishes - Associated with Luciano Crinamorte, because of his relationship to Arianna, and as a young nobleman from Bellezza.
  • The Princess of Birds - Associated with Georgia O'Grady, as a young girl of significance in Remora, which is associated with the element of Air (Birds), because the city is represented by an Air sign, the Twins.[2]
  • The Knight - Associated with Cesare Montalbano, the jockey for the Twelfth of the Ram for the Stellata.[3]
  • The Moving Stars - Dr. Dethridge interprets the card to represent the Stellata in City of Stars.
  • The Prince of Serpents - Represents self-confidence.[4] Associated with a di Chimici prince, most frequently Falco di Chimici, though when the card appears in her reading, Flavia considers that the card refers to Gaetano di Chimici. The suit of Serpents represents earth, which is associated Giglia, further strengthened by its representation by the Lady, an Earth sign, in the Stellata.
  • The Spring Maiden - Represents a young girl. In Rodolfo's reading, the girl referred to Arianna Gasparini; in Flavia's reading, the girl referred to Isabel Evans[4].
  • The King of Serpents - Represents a person in power. In Flavia's reading in City of Ships, she believes that the card may refer to Fabrizio di Chimici of Giglia, the head of the di Chimici family, but also considers an alternative reading that the King of Serpents represents a merchant, which would mean that the King of Serpents is referring to Flavia herself.
  • The Princess of Serpents - Associated with a di Chimici princess, given the association between the element of earth (Serpents) and Giglia, where the di Chimici have centred their power. In Flavia's reading, the princess referred to Beatrice di Chimici.
  • The Prince of Salamanders - Associated with exile. Refers to Filippo Nucci in Flavia's reading.[4]
  • The Moon - Can represent a journey across water.[4] Can also represent the actual moon.[5]
  • The Sword - Signifies danger.[1]
  • The Book - Can represent law, depending on context of the reading.[5] In a more literal meaning, Rodolfo interprets the Book to represent Lucien, recognizing that Lucien's first talisman is a marbled notebook in his reading in City of Masks.[1]
  • The Scales - Can represent justice, depending on context of reading.[5]
  • Death - Can represent a literal or figurative death.[1] However, Dr. Dethridge suggests the card refers to the anatomists of Padavia because of the depiction of the skeleton on the card during his reading in City of Secrets[5].
  • The Ace of Birds - Represents conquest.[4]
  • Eight of Birds - Signifies self-defence[4]
  • The Tower - Associated with imposed isolation, particularly imprisonment or exile. In Rodolfo's reading, it foresees Lucien's capture by the di Chimici and in Dr. Dethridge's reading in City of Stars, it foresees Cesare Montalbano's imprisonment in one of the towers of Santa Fina. Represents exile[4] in Flavia's reading.
  • Three of Salamanders - Represents preparation.[4]
  • Four of Salamanders - Represents alliances.[4]
  • Five of Birds - Represents defeat.[4]

Notes and ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 City of Masks
  2. City of Stars; "... Aye, ye were there - Princesse of the Birdes."
    "Princess of Birds?" asked Georgia, puzzled.
    "Yonge mayde," said Dethridge patiently. "Princesse. And birdes by cause thatte this place is of the aire - home to the flying horse and the Citie of the Starres."
  3. City of Stars; Doctor Dethridge: "...aha, thatte woll bee younge Caesar"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 City of Ships
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 City of Secrets