So I had a weird thought while I was reading the "Nations of Theah Vol. 1" preview the other day: 2nd edition Vesten reminds me strangely of Meiji-era Japan. You've got an ancient warrior nation that has modernized and adopted customs of other nations suddenly and at a very rapid rate, and is a mish-mash of ancient cultural practices and modern ones.
(Just FYI: If you're not familiar with the Meiji era in Japan, some fictional examples include the film, "The Last Samurai" and the anime and manga series "Ruroni Kenshin.")
I've been having a hard time wrapping my head around the changes to Vesten/Vendel in 2e, because I though the conflicts set up in 1e between traditionalists and modernists were really intriguing. But I find if I think of it as having similar cultural themes of change/assimilation/new vs. old to Meiji Japan, it's easier for me to picture the new version of Vesten and how I might run game sessions set there.
I know it's a weird comparison, but it's the best way I've found to get a grasp on the changes. How about all of you?