I do want to write up a more formal review once I have had a chance to digest the entirety (there is a lot there), but I also have the benefit of having seen some of it before.
since we are into random thoughts, that makes this easier
At it's core, this system is a change in vector, reinforcing role play, and is a move away from roll play (Monty Halls of the old days - see monster, kill monster, collect treasure, congratulate each other). There are systems for role playing faith, role playing social skills and contacts, role playing item and object creation (magical and non-magical), role playing spirit interactions, the ability to customize your character to be different than any other character in the whole world from a variety of aspects, and an unending set of options for role playing everything your heart desires.
I think for people who are used to "point and click" style character generation, AE will be a shock to your system. It aint simple if you try to do everything at once... Monty did put suggestions that make it easy, just leave all the stuff you are not used to out for the time being
It would be my guess that EmpCho made the systems that EmpCho would want (great artist create for themselves), and I say that because I happen to think it is great!! ;D The system is capable of managing any level of complexity you are ready to put into it, and I think they did a fantastic job of creating a mechanic system that is intuitive and so far has accommodated all the things I have been able to think of.
Arduin Eternal is once again the quantum leap forward for role playing games that the original Arduin was in the mid 70's. The amount of flexibility the game provides while still bounding it in a set of mechanics allows you to create anything you want - usually, at this point you say "within the confines of the game", but you don't need to here, the game accommodates it. That is the cool part
Hopefully people see the opportunity that this book presents instead of trying to compare it to what they are used to or what other companies have produced. AE is in a different category... They should look around the perception of complexity to find the system they want... just leave out anything that you don't like or seems too complex - for the short term - you will come back and pick it up once you recognize the need that it satisfies ;D
AE is a thread in a larger weave, and is an amazing addition to my collection. AE combined with the World Book of Khaas, and the upcoming critter compendium make a strong fabric, and I anticipate adding dungeons, magic items, and more monsters over time to finish out the tapestry...
Thanks Monty, Dave, and George, you made my Christmas