Arun Mani J

The Palace of Illusions

18 February 2024
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This book was gifted to me by my friend Levi from a book club for Christmas. Thanks Levi.

The last few months, I have been reading a lot of books related to Mahabharata. May be not so a lot but a lot at least. The same story is presented with little variations and adjustments in different books and narrations. Nobody knows which is the true one, if it ever exists.

So this book, it narrates you Mahabharata from Draupadi (Panchaali)’s point of view. If you are new to Mahabharata, then I suggest you to not start from this book. Read any other Mahabharata book from a third-party perspective and then read this book.

This book? It is awesome. I read Mahabharata from Jaya by Devdutt Patnaik, which tries to present a neutral narrative of what happened with a list of variations at the end of each chapter. If you read my review for Jaya, you will realize how I loved the book for its short, to-the-point descriptions. But by sacrificing the adjectives, the words lack any emotions.

However, The Palace of Illusions is completely opinionated. It speaks from Draupadi’s view. So there is a good amount of expressions and feelings preserved inside the book. It also presents a cinematic style of stories where the twist or surprise is at the last paragraph or sentence.

Overall, I loved the book for its presentation. If you are new to Mahabharata, then some plots may not be so obvious to you. That’s why, this book is great once you know Mahabharata.