Somehow I managed to read the 300+ page book without ever feeling like I was reading a 300+ page rpg core book. This might be because I read it in chunks and out of order, by the subjects that interested me most. (Perhaps this is the key to get through new core books...)
This feels like someone's quest (Kevin's, obviously) to "fix" AD&D... at least, that is my overall perception of it. We still have Hit Points, Alignment, and Character Classes, and most of the races are pretty bog standard. (Though I do like his take on orcs rather a lot.)
On the other hand, power-glut reputation of Palladium aside, there is a lot to like here. We have several distinct systems of magic, including wizards who use magic through symbols or circles and have no ability to cast spells. The book will gladly let you play monsters, but they emphasize the social disadvantages, larger monsters having to eat huge amounts of food, etc. Combat is slightly more tactical than AD&D, but can still be easily done without minatures. (Perhaps moreso) You have psionics that behave mechanically quite a bit like magic. (This attracts me as a DM, because I hate it when magic and psi in a game are so different that I have to "study" the one I am least receptive to)
One thing that endeared me to Palladium's fantasy game is the author's attempts to explain away various fantasy tropes that are largely a product of AD&D. For instance, wizards and armor: wizards can wear metal armor, but it disrupts their spellcasting and makes them pay extra PPE (spell points, basically) and reduces the effeciveness of their spells. (They can wear leather without penalty, though) Dwarves don't use magic because when their race possessed magic in ancient times, they nearly destroyed themselves and their enemies with the forces they unleashed. While they have eventually gotten over their fear of magic weapons and items, the race has sworn off learning actual magical spells.
I would actually love to run a campaign with this game system someday. I'm not sure I'd use their in-house setting, but I'm not going to rule it out, either. This will have to wait anyway; I haven't even gotten to the good stuff in my AD&D 1st edition game.