Four words: just watch Guin Saga. There was a show that had a lot going on and actually balanced and told it well, and it knew what kind of story it was going to be from the start, and the plotting of a certain single character outdoes all the intrigue Legendary Heroes attempts to depict. And I'll take heroic fantasy any day over this awkward fusion of lighthearted adventure and tragedy porn, which is really the term I think most appropriate for the more sordid plot points and backstory present here.
The ending truly baffles. Further research informs me that the staff had an excess of material to adapt from the light novels (thirty-seven were completed before the show's 2010 broadcast), yet they end at a moment where things seem to just be going to hell and the only closure is that Ryner came away with some character development. I also suspect much of the narrative's meandering comes from that worst of propensities, the desire to be so "faithful" to the source material that they followed the books and neglected to adapt them for this show. Not that I'm left with a favorable impression of the books after this, but still.
I hope a very, very long time passes before I have this kind of a "meh" reaction to an anime again.