First, if you haven't read "Phineas Finn," be sure to read it first. "Phineas Redux" certainly can be enjoyed without knowing the earlier novel, but it would mean so much more if you saw how Phineas's character and his relationships with others have developed from the first.
"Phineas Brought Back" (as the title means) really brings back Phineas Finn with a vengeance. The handsome, sincere young Irishman has always been a favorite with the ladies. In the first novel he was wounded by a jealous rival; in this one he is fired at by another and has his name scandalized in a newspaper. The high point of the novel is his trial for the murder of a political enemy.
Trollope's genius for character development is superb in these 2 novels. Phineas grows from a naive political novice into a highly capable government official, but his conscientiousness keeps him from playing party politics and causes problems with other members of his party. Phineas maintains his total honesty, a trait which frequently is to his detriment in the real world. His reactions to his imprisonment, trial, and acquittal are exactly right, so perfectly true to the character which Trollope has built up through hundreds of pages.
At the end of the novel, Phineas is still Phineas, but he is a much wiser and sadly disillusioned man. However, he receives the reward of a splendid mate, a woman who is truly worthy of him and whom he now has matured enough to appreciate. If only he had married her when she proposed to him in the first novel! But then none of his engrossing problems would have occurred.
This is one of Trollope's most exciting novels, a true page-turner in the trial sequence. As always, every characterization is extremely well done by one of the world's greatest authors.