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The Palace of Illusions
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9780330458535
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The Palace Of Illusions presents a woman’s take on The Mahabharata.

The Mahabharata is a timeless Indian epic that features a philosophical narrative of the Kurukshetra war and the subsequent fate of the warring factions, the Pandavas and Kauravas. In The Palace of Illusions, this tale is narrated by Panchaali (also known as Draupadi), the wife of the five Pandava brothers. The book traces the events of her life beginning with her birth.

Panchaali is born from fire, as a result of a fire-ritual performed by King Drupada of Panchaala. She leads a very unusual life from the onset of her birth. Her childhood is depicted as very lonely, with her only companion being Dhristadhyumna, her brother who also emerged from the same fire as her.

Unlike other typical females, she is interested in the art of war and the intricacies of ruling a kingdom. She is married to the five Pandava brothers, and is loved and respected by each one of them. She is strangely drawn to Karna, a famous and noble warrior who also happens to be her husbands’ most dangerous enemy.

The book explores all facets of Panchaali’s life, including her part in her husbands’ quest to regain their birthright, her complex friendship with Krishna, and her mysterious attraction towards Karna.

Divakaruni has taken a male-centric story and turned it around to focus the spotlight on the female characters. She weaves a magical tale of love, passion, honor, humiliation, power, and weakness in this tale. It highlights the life of a woman who lives in a man’s world.