No, RPM is not nearly as good as deb or BSD's ports, and building RPM packages is still way too manual and prone to mistakes, but like it or not it has become the standard in the Linux world. Perhaps what I dislike most about RPM is the lack of documentation, or the fact that whatever is available tends to be outdated. I gathered some important documents in this page, but keep in mind that in many cases there are undocumented features and information that is plainly wrong.

The culprit of it all, the central place to obtain RPM-related info, with links to some basic documentation. Taking into account that this is the official website for RPM, it could be more complete.
Considered to be the RPM manual for years now, it covers everything from using RPM to building your own. This link to Red Hat's website allows you to download it in HTML or PDF format, but you can also read it online. Watch out though, because it is quite outdated.
Much better than Maximum RPM, and also more up to date (perhaps the main weakness of that other book). This is the definite guide if you need to build your own RPMs. No doubt about that.
Written by Donnie Barnes, it provides a good practical introduction to building RPMs but as much of the documentation on the topic it may be a little bit outdated: the most recent version was written in 1999.
I found this beautiful online book written by Tim Riker while searching for information on some undocumented features of RPM. It is quite complete and far more up to date than most other documentes out there.
Do you like Debian's apt? Do you dream with using a similar RPM-based tool that automatically resolves dependencies for you, downloads them and installs them in your system? Then, apt4rpm is what you are looking for. Keep in mind though that a tool like this is as good as the repositories behind them, and in that respect RPM is way behind Debian. If you are looking for a complete list of similar tools, check this list of RPM updaters.
Looking for a particular RPM to satisfy a dependency and cannot find it anywhere? This is your website. It allows you to search for whichever RPM is available out there.
Repository of Perl modules in RPM format. This website comes to fill a very large void in the RPM world, and it seems to contain them all. Not sure how it works on other distributions, but it seems to work just fine in Red Hat and Fedora.
The repository of Perl modules in RPM format (RPMPAN) is built with a shell script that automatically creates the RPMs from CPAN. This short document, written by Doran L. Barton, tells you how to use the script (cpanflute2) to do it yourself.