The discussion eventually wandered to, "well what in the world is that game about? How can anyone make a character when they have no idea what a coherent character concept is, and how to work it out with the other players, and what else was going on, etc.?
In other words, players care about their characters and what they can reasonably expect to do. Basking in setting is a GM activity that notoriously bores players fairly quickly. A little bit of it goes a long way.
|Perdido Street Station|
Even after the plot eventually starts, it still struggles to stay focused, because he wanders into pointless asides that exist for no reason other than to show off how imaginative he thinks his setting is.
And, to be fair, it is pretty imaginative. However, it doesn't really matter. Without interesting characters and an interesting plot, the setting simply cannot support the weight of a 650 or so page novel, and it can't do it for a roleplaying game either. It's nice to have a great setting. But that can't be the only thing your game brings to the table. Setting details can be dribbled out slowly here and there when relevant and appropriate, and the setting can become an element that the players (or readers) really love and appreciate. I think fantasy fans in particular appreciate setting more readily than do fans of other genres. But they still don't appreciate it so much that they'll give up plot or characters for it.