I am starting to think I may have a personal issue with the author of this one, Tim Hitchcock as I tend to dislike The adventures that he writes. In this case I read the adventure and realized it needed work so I went online and found tons of advice as to what other gm's did to fix this one. There is a wealth of good ideas out there and the rest of the adventure path is worth slogging your way through this one.
In this case I took about 75% of his encounters and changed the narrative to make it better for my players.
my suggestion for gm's:
do yourself a favor and instead of focusing on a single opposing faction to the players.. Have each faction mess with them in a different way. The mantis try an assassination. The government holds an inquiry into the ship wreck of the Jenevere keeping the players in town while the rest of the factions leave. The Aspis hire away a bunch of their local help. The pirates can steal a their supplies. The pathfinders break in and steal all their expeditions notes and maps. Give the players a reason to compete with all the factions. Not just one.
This is an excellent adventure where the players felt like they had complete control over their own destiny. It does take a significant amount of work and role play skill from the GM. So if you're a lazy GM or your players don't care about story there are better options for you. But as far as a sandbox style adventure that is capable of standing on its own this was excellent.
as for the puzzle that everyone says was so difficult I simply drew a stick figure picture of the hieroglyphs that are described in the book. Made the puzzle very easy for my players because they could actually see the pictures instead of having me try to describe them to them.
So I played last night and had the single least fun experience I have ever had in PFS play. There is literally NO ROLEPLAYING and The combats are scaled to KILL YOU.
In our specific situation three players were packing their dice up halfway through the first combat. No experience, No gold, just pay for your body recoveries and raises. The worst part is that two players fell to save or dies.
I was really looking forward to the final combat and the mechanics of it looked really fun from what I saw watching the survivors carry on without us. It's a shame the writer decided to make both the first and final fights boss encounters.