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The Palace of Illusions | [Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni]

The Palace of Illusions

The novel traces the princess Panchaali's life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father's kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war involving all the important kings of India.
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Publisher's Summary

The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. It is told by Panchaali, wife of the Pandava brothers, a fiery female redefining for us a world of warriors, gods, and the ever-manipulating hands of fate.

The novel traces the princess Panchaali's life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father's kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war involving all the important kings of India. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her strategic duels with her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands' most dangerous enemy.

©2008 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (171 )
5 star
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4.1 (68 )
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Story
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  •  
    Richard 03-15-08
    Richard 03-15-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    99
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    "timeless story"

    I didn't realize until I was part of the way through this listen that it was anything more than a work of fiction. Imagine my surprise when I started seeing the names of characters from Palace of Illusions in the actual book I was reading. Upon doing a little internet searching, I discovered that Palace of Illusions is actually a re-telling of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, told from the point of view of Draupadi, the main female character.
    You will not always like or sympathize with Draupadi--she is a pampered, self-centered, vindictive woman who doesn't appreciate what she has until it is gone. Her story is compelling, however, and the reader does a wonderful job, using subtle changes in her voice and accent to characterize the many different people in the story. This one is definitely worth your time. A note of caution, however--the author's previous books on audible, from The Brotherhood of the Conch, are aimed at upper elementary or middle school aged children. The Palace of Illusions is probably not appropriate for children of that age.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Balaji Kennesaw, GA, USA 04-23-08
    Balaji Kennesaw, GA, USA 04-23-08 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    10
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    Overall
    "Great Listen"

    I have read Mahabharata from several authors and every time I listen to the story some new thought always occur. I am very picky about authors who re-write what Vyasa has written. I downloaded this book due to my wife's insist and I am not at all disappointed.
    The great epic has been told from Panchali's view point and the reader has done an excellent job.
    I will recommend this book for anybody who are interested in religious mythologies and Mahabaratha itself is a very thought provoking story and this book will introduce you to that.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BKK Marietta, GA USA 04-23-08
    BKK Marietta, GA USA 04-23-08 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
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    96
    8
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Great Listen"

    I have read Mahabharata from several authors and every time I listen to the story some new thought always occur. I am very picky about authors who re-write what Vyasa has written. I downloaded this book due to my wife's insist and I am not at all disappointed.
    The great epic has been told from Panchali's view point and the reader has done an excellent job.
    I will recommend this book for anybody who are interested in religious mythologies and Mahabaratha itself is a very thought provoking story and this book will introduce you to that.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Le Center, MN, USA 04-23-09
    Julie Le Center, MN, USA 04-23-09 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    122
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    50
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    "Wonderful wonderful wonderful"

    This is a fairy tale for adults. Entrancing to listen to this. I enjoyed every minute. A must listen for anyone interested in the Bagavad Gita, it will be entertaining even to people who didn't know they had an interest in Indian mythology. I'd recommend it to anyone.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arthur Philadelphia, PA, USA 08-20-09
    Arthur Philadelphia, PA, USA 08-20-09 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Brilliant!"

    Divakaruni did a wonderful job of introducing me to the Mahabharata. She is a master of simile and metaphor. I am sad that this story ended. It inspired me to read through the Wikipedia entries on this Indian epic, on Princess Draupadi (Panchaali), on the Pandavas and Kauravas, and the battle of Kurukshetra. Though it tells the story from the viewpoint of the key woman in the tale, it is not "chick lit" but a compelling tale of gods, demigods, sages and humans, with a climactic battle that seems like harbinger of nuclear holocaust.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 01-17-12
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 01-17-12 Member Since 2015

    i'm listening

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Performance
    Story
    "A good listen"

    I got this largely because audible doesn't have any recordings of the Mahabahrata. ( I am never sure if I have the H in the right spot, please forgive.) Last time I looked audible was not lacking in "classics" how is it possible they fail on this? Seems rather a crime to me really.

    2 days after I went searching for a recording of the Maha and this came up in the search, I saw this story recommended on a fantasy read list on the Tor website. So I came back for it

    Its a good story, plenty of intrigue, plenty of magic. First person narrative ALWAYS puts me off. Every wicked thought is worse and every kind thought sounds self- serving. For me, that means there cannot be love for a story, because I don't trust it.

    The central idea is to tell the story from the woman's point of view... but I am not sure that she comes off as a genuine- to - period woman. If you enjoy considering issues like that, and I am just the sort of nerd who does, then this is worth your time. I did listen through, and that's not something that I can say for many first person audiobooks. Wish they would get a copy of the Mahabarhata- yeah I think that's right- then I would listen to this again.

    The performance is terrific, couldn't be better

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Schaghticoke, NY, United States 05-11-11
    Debra Schaghticoke, NY, United States 05-11-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "A meditation on the Mahabharata"

    I picked this up because I am a fan of the Indian classic, and it didn't disappoint. The narration complemented the story perfectly , and my heart was broken at the end. The story, told from Draupadi's perspective, fascinated and it serves as an enlightened counterpoint to the original text. I will be looking for more from this author, and from this narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Louisville, KY, United States 03-21-11
    Diane Louisville, KY, United States 03-21-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    560
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    204
    107
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    94
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    "Exotic melodrama"

    I can't help but think that I would have enjoyed this book much more if I had been familiar with the Hindu mythology upon which the events are apparently based. As it was, a fairly simple plot has been so embroidered with such an excess of baroque melodrama that the book became overly long, complex and ultimately, tedious. Except for the main characters, it was difficult to keep track of the many peripheral figures, at least in an audio format, an obstacle which was compounded by of the foreign-sounding names to a speaker of English. The writing is beautiful and the narration well-done. I would have liked to have enjoyed and to have learned more from this book, but unfortunately its over-saturated prose made that very difficult.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicki Davis, CA, USA 01-17-10
    Nicki Davis, CA, USA 01-17-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "Legends from a Feminine Perspective"

    This wonderful tale provides the backstory for the Hindu classic Bhagavad Gita, as related by the Sage Vyasa. In the book, Vyasa is one of the many characters who might-or might not- have exited in the India of thousands of years ago. Part fable, part family drama, and completely enchanting as read by Sneha Mathan, I enjoyed it completely, and will look for this authors work in the future. You go, girl!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CJ New Jersey 09-17-09
    CJ New Jersey 09-17-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
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    14
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    2
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    Overall
    "Good but better with some background"

    I wouldn't rate this as one of my favorite audio books, but I think this is perhaps because I don't have much background in Hindu mythology or Indian culture. The story is told well, but seems a bit odd without that context.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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