My impressions are WOW what a great design! and then hmmm what could have been...
First may I say that the build of the gate is absolutely beautiful. It has so many great little details (stained glass, furniture, decorative bricks) inside and out. The frogs as legs on the table is fantastic as are the reddish brown flower accents on the furniture. It looks like an AFOL built it. With two sets back to back it looks even better.
The side walls and buildings are nicely done and the tie in with MMV is nice. I don't think these walls will blend in with the Castle at all because the style and size is totally different.
The tents leave a bit to be desired. Having a tent that only holds a weapon is kinda weak in my opinion. The jousting railing is nicely made and long enough to be useful.
The grandstand is nicley done and two put together may give enough room for the Royals to even sit down during the tourny.
The new princess appears to be a princess for the dragon faction. The prince fig is nice and we now have several options for Lion torsos on the royals. Both figs are fantastic. I love the new black falcon, although I do wish he had his own torso and or legs. With 3 new shields, a new black helmet, armor, and horse barding I think it will be possible, although expensive... to build out a new faction or splinter faction of the black falcons. Some sort of new BF torso would put the icing on the cake. I can always hope!
Perhaps I know too much about the LEGO castle factions and it has jaded my impression of the set... Though the old Black Falcon sets had some green flags as Trevor pointed out. With the tent, flags, and plume, I am very disappointed that the secondary color of the black falcon is dark green? I know that this can be easily modified. However, it feels like they designed the set to include the dragon knight and then switched out the helmet, armor, shields, and barding at the last second to make a new faction? This really detracts from the overall complete look that I would hope for from an exclusive set. If the tent was black/white, with black/white flags and a white plume it would have been much better. It just looks like two factions have been blended together is some obviously perverse way.
As far as pieces go this set has a lot of very useful parts. As was noted it is all brick built with no wall panels. The lt bley 1x3 arches are very nice to see. This is a very rare element and yet so needed by castle builders. The set has a lot of 1x1 rounds in lt and dark bley and although not uncommon do not typically come in great numbers in castle sets. I count atleast 5 lt bley mudguards; they make beautiful arches. I also spotted atleast 24 lt bley 1x1 bricks with stud on one side. I can't get enough of this part and they don't come cheap on BL. In sets it hasn't come in quatities like this in anything except the tower bridge set. The red 1x2x2 65 degree slopes in red are rare. The dark green 1x3 33 degree inverted slopes are a new piece. The flower plates are nice and we get them is many colors including a bunch of reddish brown.
Overall I would say this is a fantastic set and deserves a 9.5 out of 10.
After a wonderful review like that what more can I say...
As well designed as this set is, I would have much preferred a different take on this set. Even though the gate is great, I could have done without this feature at all in this set. After all I could build a simalar gate with the parts from the Kings Castle set. I would have preferred the set to have had 4 factions of jousting knights with four proper tents and each with a page or soldier to accompany him. Instead of the walls with the 1/2 buildings on it perhaps one well built structure in the vein of MMV. Lastly a small seating area with a couple of peasants watching. By removing the gate and walls I think this could have easily been achieved for the same total cost. I think a set like that would have sold even better. Kids love the knights and more different ones to compete would give a real tournament flavor. It also would have sold like hotcakes to army building types and resellers trying to get in on the figures. This would especially be true if after the lions and dragons two new factions were introduced. The black falcon is great and then add a new purple or yellow faction to the mix.
Even if I was hoping for something else, it is truly a great set. No doubt the number and type of parts are great for the price. As a castle collector and large scale builder, I will obtain a half dozen of these around the time of the next brickworld event. Congrats to the LEGO designers on a job well done.