I wanted so badly to like this book.
I love Sorcerer's Crusade and Mage in general, I love the Technocracy/Order of Reason, and Brian Campbell has been involved in several of my favorite Mage supplements over the years. Unfortunately, this book is the worst book in the line that I've read (Sorcerer's Crusade, and the only one I haven't read yet is Witches and Pagans). In the end, this much needed book had some good ideas (I liked the breakdown of the various guilds, the interstitial fiction, and a few other things) but overall, it was a mess.
The primary problem is that the editor did a terrible, terrible job. The book was riddled with typos. I don't demand perfection, but the density was high and basic words had misspellings. Considering that the book was published in 2001, well after the advent of word processors and spell check, this is inexcusable. To be honest, though, I found the spelling errors to be annoying. What was worse than annoying were the other errors in the book. There were several references to the "nine Conventions" of the Order of Reason or to the "other eight Conventions." This is tough to have, considering that there are eight Conventions (and though the number varies over time, I don't believe there are ever more than eight, and certainly not on the Sorcerer's Crusade era). The book doesn't even manage consistency on material that originates in it: are there 13 or 14 Masters the rule the Order? Several times the number 13 is mentioned (it basically switches part way through the book) but earlier on describes 2 from each of 6 of the Conventions and then 1 from each of the remaining two. Finally, on the editing front, there is some inconsistent formatting: every single Convention gets a paragraph or two about who they are before launching into the guilds. Except, for some reason, the Artificers, who are first in the order!
Aside from the editing leaving much to be desired, the book is very inconsistent with the rest of the line. It feels like it was intended to be a standalone game with its own mechanics loosely based on Mage. But it can't be that, it's a supplement for the Sorcerer's Crusade line, and one of the later ones, so it needs to be consistent with what came before, at least setting-wise, or else it's providing a system update (perhaps to Revised, which had come out, but these rules are very much not Revised). The book likes to hand out "reroll 10s" like it was a Chronicles of Darkness game, as just a small boost with no other consequences. But it's doing so on rolls that it's normally extremely difficult to get to reroll 10s on, like Arete/Enlightenment rolls. The biggest one, though, is that it states, definitively, that Daedaleans with Arete up to three can't use vain Science. This directly contradicts the Artificer's Handbook and the Swashbuckler's Handbook. It also leans heavily on the idea of characters doing magick intuitively, without meaning to do anything at all, which flies in the face of Mage's conceit that magick is an expression of Will. Sorcerer's Crusade is a bit looser about the ST just declaring a character is doing magick without the player saying so, but still, this took things to a rather different degree.
Overall, this book was bad. I wanted to like it so much, and the parts in it that are good are great. But it BADLY needed a better editor, and perhaps a little bit more pre-writing work to make it feel more like it fits with the rest of the line.
[2 of 5 Stars!]