My players and I absolutely love this adventure. Several of them have told me that they look forward to the game all week. Now that we have finished the first book, here are a few of my thoughts.
I didn't initially plan to buy an adventure path. I was looking for tips to run an evil campaign, and my search led me here. Buying all 6 books was expensive, but it was certainly worth it. The authors did a great job designing a campaign for evil PCs. We have been playing for 6 months, and we have not fallen into any of the typical traps of an evil campaign (i.e. infighting between players or a desire for wanton and *thoughtless* slaughter).
The book does an excellent job describing all the NPCs and locations the PCs will visit. There are portraits for most of the important NPCs and monsters. There are maps for most of the dungeons, but there is no map for one of the important towns in the game.
My players range in experience from complete newbie to lifelong RPG player. This path is challenging for the newer players, but not so much that they haven't been able to adapt.
Some parts of the game were a little too open ended for my players. The final act of the book gave a lot of freedom to the PCs. My players wanted to act like typical heroes and assault the final fortress all at once, in a single day. I had to introduce a new PC to help talk them out of this disastrous plan. Still, the open-endedness of the final act was mostly fun. And what would an evil campaign be if the villains didn't make at least one greatly flawed plan?
Some of the future books in this series contain information that really should have been in this book. For instance, the 2nd book contains information on an alternate class and race options for the group. There is no way to know this information exists unless you look at the 2nd book, but it is information that the GM should know *before* the PCs roll their first character. It's nice to have all this extra information, but I didn't know about it until after the campaign had already started.
The book is really beautiful, for the most part. So, I don't have much to say here. There are a few small typos that made it to the final version. These are easy to ignore. The one complaint I might have is that most of the drawings of NPCs look like cupcakes, especially Squire Timeon of Balentyne. But even this led to a lot of fun. One of my players brought a bunch of blue cupcakes to the game as a half-joke. They were tasty.
Overall this is an excellent book, and I do not hesitate to recommend it.