The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half-history, half-myth, and wholly magical; narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the five Pandava brothers, we are - finally - given a woman's take on the timeless tale that is the Mahabharata
Tracing Panchaali's life - from fiery birth and lonely childhood, where her beloved brother is her only true companion; through her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna; to marriage, motherhood and Panchaali's secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands' most dangerous enemy - The Palace of Illusions is a deeply human novel about a woman born into a man's world - a world of warriors, gods and the ever manipulating hands of fate.
‘A mythic tale brimming with warriors, magic and treachery’ Los Angeles Times
‘A radiant entree into an ancient mythology . . . Charming and remarkable’ Houston Chronicle
‘A woman’s look at crime and punishment, loyalty, promises, love and vengeance . . . With The Palace of Illusions, Divakaruni has proven that her storytelling talents put her right up there with the best’ Miami Herald
Recasting the Indian epic Mahabharata from the perspective of Princess Panchaali, veteran novelist Divakaruni (Queen of Dream) offers a vivid and inventive companion to the renowned poem. Born from fire and marked with the prophecy that she will change the course of history, the strong-willed Panchaali declares early on that she won't spend her life merely supporting the men around her. Soon enough, she bucks tradition by simultaneously wedding all five famous Pandava brothers, who have been denied their rightful kingdom, and finds herself the happy mistress of the much-envied palace of illusions. Panchaali's joy is short-lived, however, when hubris, fate and the desire for vengeance in reclaiming the Pandavas' kingdom (all also prophesied) cause her and her husbands to make mistakes that have cascading political effects, shattering peace in the region. Devastation ensues, but spiritual remarks from the divine Krishna put life and death in a cosmic context. Despite an intrusive retrospective voice ("I didn't know then how sorely...love would be tested") and a sometimes heavy-handed feminism, Divakaruni's rich, action-filled narrative contrasts well with the complex psychological portrait of a mythic princess.