This is the second of the six Barsetshire novels, and the first great novel in that series. THE WARDEN, while pleasant, primarily serves as a prequel to this novel. To be honest, if Trollope had not gone on to write BARCHESTER TOWERS, there would not be any real reason to read THE WARDEN. But because it introduces us to characters and situations that are crucial to BARCHESTER TOWERS, one really ought to have read THE WARDEN before reading this novel.
Trollope presents a dilemma for most readers. On the one hand, he wrote an enormous number of very good novels. On the other hand, he wrote no masterpieces. None of Trollope's books can stand comparison with the best work of Jane Austen, Flaubert, Dickens, George Eliot, Tolstoy, or Dostoevsky. On the other hand, none of those writers wrote anywhere near as many excellent as Trollope did. He may not have been a very great writer, but he was a very good one, and perhaps the most prolific good novelist who ever lived. Conservatively assessing his output, Trollope wrote at least 20 good novels. Trollope may not have been a genius, but he did possess a genius for consistency.