In reality it's pretty simple for the main use cases, it's just that the spec's trying to cram lots of stuff about the binary format and random quality of service stuff in (that doesn't really apply over a normal TCP/IP connection anyway).
The super quick intro is:
There's also https://www.hivemq.com/blog/mqtt-essentials-part-1-introducing-mqtt/ which I seem to remember was pretty good. You can gloss over most of it as it's a bit much in places, but later on (part 5?) there's more useful info about publish/subscribe
If you want a slightly less scary intro, look at @Ollie's tinyMQTT:
It's not crazy complex, it's just shifting a few bytes around.
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