Things that did not work for me in the writing: The passage of time.
I do not feel it believable that it was supposed to take place over the course of so many years. People didn't change enough. People who should have their own goals to pursue appear to have sat still spinning their wheels for long periods of time only to pick up again during the time that the player is actually in control. As it is, practically the ONLY change we see after a time-jump is Hawke moving into the mansion. Other than that, all you get is the codex telling you "Character X is becoming more and more (whatever Character X was already)."
Nobody makes any other friends when you're not looking. No new organisations form and become established in those timeframes - they'll only just try to start up when you get to a new time period. The world doesn't alter.
(Okay, correction. The very first timejump, where you've spent a year in the city working for someone? That one does try to give the suggestion that you've met people and things have happened. Which is a lot more than any other timejump does.)
How long is Isabela supposed to sit at the bar staring into the same mug of terrible beer and apparently doing *absolutely nothing* to solve her problem other than possibly ask the underground to keep an eye out? As I mentioned in another post, if she wanted a ship surely she could have found someone to sail for who would hire an experienced captain. It would take time, but she supposedly had YEARS. She could have come up with a mad scheme to hijack a vessel. If she really cared that much about Castillon and had no idea where his particular relic was, she could have set off on a venture to find some OTHER valuable relic to buy him off with (and for that reason should likely have DEMANDED to be in the deep roads party!) Years on her ass? It doesn't add up. Seven years is a pretty big chunk out of a medieval human's active adventuring lifespan. How many years was she sailing before the shipwreck? Can she in any way still call herself a sailor if she's been retired so long? What exactly is she doing to earn a living?
Merril is fixated on her little project. Or so they tell us, since we don't actually see signs of her doing anything about it. Finding wizards to consult with, or rare tomes of knowledge? That would be logical, but no, apparently she just stares at it blankly for years on end. And it's not like she's busy socialising with the neighbors, either, because if you suggest she help the alienage folk at the end of her plot she's amazed that she never thought of it. Oh, and she occasionally makes vague jokes about how she's lived in her slum house for years but never bothered to clean or repair it. Seven years staring at a blank screen and never growing out of her Innocently Clueless Demeanor. If you think about it, it becomes rather creepy.
Meh, I could go on, but you get my point I think...