The back half of the book was mostly mechanical. New charms, martial arts, spells, magic items. The stories and flavor of these things were all really good, but I'm afraid the set as a whole suffers from the same basic problems as the core book. The central idea of minor charms that can be stacked together to dial in the power of your central tricks is one that is fundamentally flawed. Even if it weren't too much work at the table, it front-loads a lot of complexity into character creation.
However, Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought is probably better in this regard than the core. The charm trees, while still loaded down with questionable charms, feel less sprawling overall. I expect we are at the beginning of a process we also saw play out in 1st and 2nd edition - where as time goes on and the writers and editors have more practical play experience, they will start designing for the game as it actually exists, rather than what they imagined it would turn out to be in development.
It's just a shame that the factions that come first in the game's life-cycle, the Solars and the Dragon-Blooded, are always the ones to miss out on the increase in design expertise. I'm calling it now - 4th edition will have Infernals be core.
My main feeling about this book, when all is said and done, is that it is long overdue. The Dragon-Blooded/Solar conflict is the driving force of the setting and many of my early 3rd edition games fell apart because of a lack of Dragon-Blooded antagonists.
Of course, this book doesn't really solve that problem, because it mainly just adds ways to build antagonists as if they were full characters, which is less than ideal. Quick characters require just as much bullshitting as they've always done. Still, I've got better benchmarks for what the heights of Dragon-Blooded power look like in 3rd edition, and that's not entirely useless. Though with no way to gauge overall character strength, I'm guessing it will take a lot of trial and error before I manage to dial in to the proper challenge level. I'll probably wind up having to eyeball it, in which case that's something I could have been doing all along.
Still, this book has a lot going for it. It looks great, with plenty of gorgeous full-color artwork. It introduces new characters and locations. It broadens and expands the Dragon-Blooded power set in satisfying and interesting ways (when it's not doing foolish things like telling you to reroll your 6s).
I'm left feeling bullish about the future of Exalted 3rd edition hardcovers. I think they're going to keep getting better, and as the edition becomes more lived-in, the power sets will evolve into something a bit more useable. I can already see it starting here, and I hope the trend will continue.
UKSS Contribution: I'm going to go with one of my favorite of Exalted's canon characters - Ledaal Kes, the flamboyantly gay chessmaster/forensic accountant/super spy/inventor/pretty boy. He may even be too much of a good thing, but when has that ever dissuaded me?