Let me get a couple of things out of the way first. Initially I want to let anyone reading this know that out of respect for Wyrd Miniatures I tried to include pictures in this post that would not cause any loss of product sales such as pages that would include actually statements of rules and such. However I did want to give a couple of examples of what you will find in this book. In all honesty it was this book alone that first steered me toward the Malifaux game.
With that being said I thought I would also give a brief description of how I came to be interested in Malifaux. I only started miniature wargaming just last year (2010). I quickly got addicted to both the hobby side and the gaming side. Though due to the amount of time I spend traveling for my job the hobby side typically receives much more attention than the gaming does. In about 4 months I had spent way too much money in building 2 Warhammer 40K armies. By January this year I had begun looking for an alternative that would feed my gaming and hobby addiction but at a smaller scale. I narrowed it down between Warmachine/Hordes and Malifaux. In the end it was the different feel in style all together to Malifaux that interested me more so I pulled the trigger and ordered two crew box sets (Ramos and Seamus) as well as the original rulebook and the Rising Powers which had not been out very long. All four items sat in my den until late August. I think the combination of having some free time again, as well as an additional new local gaming store opening up by my office, finally got me to pick things back up and get into this game.
I had leafed through this rulebook a couple of times but only recently picked it up and read it from cover to cover. I figured if I am going to get playing these models I might as well get familiar with the general rules and the rules of the models I owned at the time. At first I tried to read the book from beginning to end and that just seemed to confuse me. If you haven't opened this one up yet let me warn you that there are rules and fluff (world setting back story) scattered all over the place as you go through it. This isn't to say there isn't an order to it but you will find stories breaking up rules several times. So I decided that I would go through and cherry pick all of the rules first. That seemed to work as I went through and seemed to have a much better understanding of the rules by doing this. Once that was finished I circled back around and just finished reading all of the fluff stories this morning. I have to say the stories made me appreciate this world/system even more. So much I have already began looking for novels with a similar feel to read after finishing the three Malifaux rulebooks.
The book has a lot of great material whether it is the rules, the storyline or even the glossary or quick reference pages in the back. Overall I really enjoyed reading this and feel that the rules were laid out in a way that is fairly easy to understand.
The game itself differs in so many ways from the typical miniature wargaming system but to me the major way is the use of cards that control the fate of everything you do rather then rolling 20+ six sided dice across the table. The miniatures are gorgeous. Each model has its uses and various styles of play. There are dozens of different game setups and uses of terrain which make almost every game you play different from the previous ones.
The only thing I have to do now it control myself from buying any more models until I get the crews and solo's painted up that I currently have. Well after I pick up my Seamus alternate and avatar this weekend of course...
As was mentioned in the comments below the rule set found in the original book here is outdated. You can find the v2 character cards as well as other useful tools at the Malifaux Downloads Page.