First off a minor criticism that may be leveled by some readers is that for a book entitled 'The Rise Of Darth Vader', he doesn't appear nearly as much as one might expect ( to be fair, he is in at least half the book, but if you're a Darth Vader-phile, you may wish for more ).
That said, when he is present, the author goes to great lengths to convey Vader's inner turmoil and the repercussions of his new state as someone now "more machine than man". There is some extraordinarily vivid writing by Luceno that really encapsulates the horror of Vader's new cyborg body, stripped of his flesh and blood self - his humanity. It's probably this part of the book that has stayed with me the most aside from the excellent climactic battle on Chewbacca's home planet ).
Whilst initially I was not particularity enamored with some of the new characters created especially for the novel, their story was eventually woven deftly into to the bigger plot. Appearances from characters such as Bail Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca and others also added to the excitement and authenticity, and felt integral to the story, not just shoehorned in.
Indeed with Bail Organa's introduction, I felt more engaged and invested with the novel, and the dramatic tension Luceno had built up developed nicely as the story progressed ( I would have actually preferred it if Bail Organa had been the primary foil to Vader in this story instead of jedis I have never encountered before, but that would have defeated the point of the book I guess).
The novel culminates in the impressively action-packed battle on Kashyyyk, which was handled far more deftly than the other battle we saw onscreen in the lackluster 'Revenge of the Sith' movie.
This being my first James Luceno STAR WARS novel, I shall certainly be exploring some of his other works. An excellent and engaging read.