Overall I liked it, but I agree completely with the observation regarding the movie references. Unless Banthas, Dewbacks, and tauntauns are the only herbivores in that galaxy, the overuse of them is a step beyond annoying. It's like the author has a list of 10 words, including those 3, Rancor, Hutt, and a few others that they feel compelled to sprinkle into the dialogue.
But it is interesting to think about Vader's taking the role of a leader in the empire, and how that role is perceived by the military personel and civilians. Not to mention the little surprise on tatooine that helps tie the trilogies together.