I agree, this book is far better than some of the absolute nonsense published for V5 - looking at you Mr. Sabbat. I like the concept of the book and I love the various different cults detailed within.
However, even on a casual glance, there are some issues. Firstly the usual, poor editing, spelling or grammatical errors. Come on people, use a program and spend an afternoon correcting it all and it's done. Hardly expensive or difficult is it?
Secondly, and this is something that marrs a lot of OPP products. Art is bland. None of it is bad, I mean not to the level of the Exalted core, which contains some terrible choices, but nothing stands out as really memorable. I take it back, the poor sod roasting over an open fire was pretty memorable. But the test of Gaydos' work as usual is love or hate. Examples or bad or just terrible choices of art include for the purity - just looks too computerish, the orphans on p57 is horrible, the golden cic on p47 looks lifted from a poorly animated computer game, and the shepard of Ur-shulgi, well, what a wasted opportunity, when they could have shown the boy himself on a pilgrimage or one of the ancient ancilla he chose.
And so on to the next issue. Because of the beckoning, the elders have had their numbers thinned. Methuselahs are now gods when they wake up, because your average cainite in v5 is a thinblood at best or if your ST hasnt yanked the pages from the book in disgust, a daywalker. And so, on to the Shepards. Ur-Shulgi personally hand picked 12 top men for the job of bringing the naughty muslim Assamites back to the fold, and then laying smacks upon all vampirekind for being weakass morons instead of badass diabolarist, lords of the world, who worship his sire instead of any pathetic mortal false god. When you think about it, he has a point. Why would supreme beings, eternal beings, worship gods of the kine? That's for the weak, and the weak do not deserve the blood. I'm with Shulgi, he'd get my vote. He's a top lad, screw that traitor Al-Ashrad, he's not even a good mage, so ner.
I digress, my issue was this. curious, of Shulgi's choices of "ancilla of considerable age", I took to the wonders of the internet to look them up. Now an ancilla of considerable age... a few hundred years old then? Nah, fuck that noise, Elulu, well over 4,000. Naram-Sin, the same. Now both of these ages assume the cainite was embraced in the era the real historical figure lived. They're both ancient kings of Ur, just like the real shulgi, (though as they were kings before him in real life it all gets messy). So because of the beckoning, authors are now writing about ancient ancilla because they can't use the word "elder". Ancilla are typically 1-2 hundred years old, but these clowns are 20-40 times that and the world didn't shake when they rose up to do their master's bidding? DUMB. Pro-tip. If you are going to be kewl and use real world kings etc as throw away names for your ancilla, don't choose ones so old. Kindred beyond 300 years are ELDERS. Please hire writers that know VAMPIRE lore. I would love to know what took down two Ancients, but the opportunity is lost to us now.
Anyway, all that aside, I've given the book 3 stars. Better art, better art choices (why the terrible orphans or bloodless and not something cool for the Withered for example) and just better research/ writers actually knowing Vamp Lore would have raised this book up to at least a 4. It's a decent read, and will add a little spice to a campaign, but I for one look forward to the day Vampire is not under the direction of Dawkins and OPP hire some talented artists. It can be done, smaller companies manage it.