Finished reading my copy of Trail Life, and overall I enjoyed it. I never read Beyond Backpacking, so I can't compare the two, however the new book tends to not be quite so 'Ray Way' as I suspect the older books were. There are some aspects of the book where Ray's opinions are strong, such as the use of umbrellas, or the efforts he makes to remove logos from products.
Trail Life is not so much a book specifically about lightweight backpacking, but rather it's a book about backpacking with a strong lean towards the lightweight philosophy, as it includes sections on various topics (wildlife, ticks, lightning, snow travel, fording creeks, etc.) which have no particular lightweight perspective. Some sections however are more decidedly geared towards lightweight, such as the sections on sleeping quilts and footwear.
For those thinking of making some of their own stuff, the book has a sewing chapter at the back which inludes tips for certain types of projects that could be useful.
Ray shares a number of personal experiences throughout the book, which helps explain his backpacking style transition from traditional to lightweight, and hopefully provides opportunities for us to learn from his mistakes, and not our own.
As for those overpriced copies of Beyond Backpacking, those prices are set by opportunists looking to make a buck. When a book is no longer available via mainstream sources (bookstores, Amazon.com, etc), they hope to find someone who's just got to have a copy of that book, and might be willing to pay that big price. It has nothing to do with the value or quality of the book, or the author. Just wanted to make sure folks don't judge the book (or the author) based on prices set by these opportunists.