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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
4.5 (68 )
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Performance
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  •  
    hg7607a washington, DC 07-01-15
    hg7607a washington, DC 07-01-15 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    52
    4
    Overall
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    Story
    "Loved it! Feminist take on ancient Hindu epic"

    Loved this feminist retelling of Mahabharata, a epic Hindu text. Panchali is such a fascinating character in Hindu mythology, and this book really takes the reader through her experience..Beautifully written, engrossing... Couldn't put it down/stop listening.

    The narrator did a wonderful job with often difficult to pronounce Sanskrit words and names.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Normal, IL, United States 04-26-13
    Michelle Normal, IL, United States 04-26-13 Member Since 2014

    mettacounseling.com

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    41
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful"
    Where does The Palace of Illusions rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The best book I've listened to so far. I didn't want to turn it off.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Palace of Illusions and why?


    Any additional comments?

    I have no idea how this book would be for people who are not familiar with the stories of the Mahabharata. I know them well, so my experience was, rather than learning new tales, reveling in this masterful interpretation. I relished it - the stories from Draupadi's point of view. I love her more than ever after hearing this book, and was constantly surprised by my complete change of opinion regarding some of the situations. For instance, I wanted Draupadi and Karna to sleep together so badly that I told her so aloud at one point. Sadly, she didn't take my advice. The book was a powerful retelling, and is now my favorite version. Sneha Mathan was absolutely fantastic to listen to - her voice is honey and she is a wonderful actor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GD USA 01-04-13
    GD USA 01-04-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "A different perspective on Mahabharata"
    If you could sum up The Palace of Illusions in three words, what would they be?

    Well written, gripping, must-read


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Krishna


    Have you listened to any of Sneha Mathan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is my first book read by Sneha Mathan


    If you could take any character from The Palace of Illusions out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    None


    Any additional comments?

    A well written book and nice to read/listen. I have always been fascinated by the epic Mahabharata. Everytime I discover some new aspect from this grand epic and always keep revisiting it from time to time. This book was a completely different perspective from one of the principal and the most enigmatic characters in Mahabharata - Draupadi. I think Chitra hit it right by telling this story from a perspective which has never been tapped before. I think that she has taken Draupadi's curiosity about Karna way too far and delves on it way too much. I am not an expert on Mahabharata but I think Draupadi's obsession with Karna takes it away from the authenticity of the story. But if you can manage to sideline that, you will definitely enjoy this ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Larchmont, NY, United States 07-30-12
    Andrew Larchmont, NY, United States 07-30-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    188
    4
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    "A great listen"
    Where does The Palace of Illusions rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is a fascinating piece of Indian fiction. It is a complex and interwoven story. Given the complexity, this may be a better read than listen unless you can really devote your attention to the story and the characters. The reader is great. Certainly a very enjoyable listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alain santa Fe, NM, United States 04-26-10
    Alain santa Fe, NM, United States 04-26-10

    professor. like great and VERY good books, fiction and history, mainly

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Needs prior knowledge"

    A fun, albeit shallow, often silly, recounting of the Mahabharata. But you need to know the story to grasp it at all.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol EUGENE, OR, United States 11-15-09
    Carol EUGENE, OR, United States 11-15-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "Confusing"

    I had a very hard time following this story. It seemed to jump around, and a lot of it just didn't make sense. I gave up after about 3 hours. I wish I had used my credit on something else.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Hunters Hill, Australia 10-27-09
    Mr Hunters Hill, Australia 10-27-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    411
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    "Masterful storytelling from a feminine perspective"

    This wonderful book tells the story of the Mahabarata from the point of view of a woman within the story. It is vastly different to the origional which has a masculine tone. But it contains all the elements of a timeless tale with great spiritual insight. This is complemented by an excellent narrator. Highly recommended to all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Trupiano 06-04-09

    Listening while working on the farm

    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    "mtrupiano"

    This book was good even if sometimes the names of the characters started to sound the same.
    The ending was especially good with food for thought about death.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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