The Palace of Illusions is a retelling of the greatest Indian epic of all time – The Mahabharata. Learning the series of events through the eyes of Draupadi makes this book way more special.
Draupadi, born from fire, believed in the prophecy of her life and then, the history changed forever. She spent her initial years in Panchaal, listening to the story of her birth from Dhai Ma. Draupadi’s only companion was her brother Dhristadyumna, born together from the fire. She learnt whatever she could from him, as women were forbidden from taking lessons.
Draupadi was a strong-willed girl and she desired to leave a mark in the History. Krishna visited them often and Draupadi was very fond of him. She earned Panchaali as her name from an old sage, Vyasa the seer. The sage advised and warned her about three situations.
“Love comes like lightning, and disappears the same way. If you’re lucky, it strikes you right. If not, you’ll spend your life yearning for a man you can’t have.” – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
King Drupad desired for a powerful ally like Arjun on his side. Draupadi’s Swayamvar was merely a political setup for Arjun to win Draupadi. Karna was the only other person who could compete and win against Arjun. Although Draupadi was secretly drawn towards Karna, she spoke bitter words about his caste and status. As it was the only way to stop him from winning her just to abide by the advice of her well-wishers.
Due to certain situations and circumstances, Draupadi ends up marrying five of the Pandava brothers. She considered this to be her punishment for having treated Karna so cruelly. The untold love for Karna strongly grew within her. She longed to meet those sad eyes of Karna.
The Pandavas were given one half of Hastinapur, where they built a magical palace. The palace of Illusions. The Palace was so beautifully built and it gave Draupadi the feeling of belonging and home.Krishna rendered his wise words throughout the journey of the Pandavas.
All the kings of Bharath attended the Rajasuya ceremony at their Palace. They warmly welcomed Duryodhan and the other Kauravas even if they had always caused danger to the Pandavas. Sisupal brought his death at the Rajasuya with his words and the ceremony didn’t take place as planned. Draupadi learnt Duryodhan’s envy and his motive to own a palace just like theirs.
Duryodhan sent an invite to the Pandavas to visit their palace and play dice. Yudhisthir, the eldest Pandava brother, suggested to accept the invite. Yudhisthir lost his kingdom and Draupadi in the game of dice. The Kauravas shamed and harassed Draupadi. A game of gamble lost her honour. She begged for help, but none came forward. To rub the shame, she cursed the Kauravas.
The Kauravas promised to return their Kingdom on their return from the exile of twelve long years. Revenge is the only feeling that drove Draupadi in their years of exile. The Kauravas did not keep up the promise. Draupadi is one of the major reasons to cause the great war between the Pandavas and Kauravas. She also learns the truth about Karna, the greatest enemy of the Pandavas.
Can Karna’s secret stop the war?
Will Dharma prevail?
To know that, read The Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
“Expectations are like hidden rocks in your path—all they do is trip you up.” – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a beautifully written retelling with a mix of both myth and magic. The character development of Draupadi is amazing.
From dreaming to mark a place in the history to be the major reason of the great war, she did make her dream come true.
The author, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni added the thoughts of a modern woman to Draupadi’s character. The shameful humiliation she faced from men made Draupadi open a council for the ladies in the period of her reign. Thus she found justice, not just for herself, but all the woman of Hastinapur. Draupadi is indeed a powerful woman, who secured a remarkable place in the history.
Her untold love for Karna is portrayed well. My heart ached as I read about Karna’s life. Karna faced humiliation right from his birth, but he never complained about his difficulties in life. His loyalty is remarkable. He stood by his friend even if it was the wrong path. That showed his gratefulness. To learn the secret of his birth during the war shattered my heart.
Yudhisthir’s righteousness and Dharma put the Pandavas and Panchali in a lot of difficulties. He trusted the Kauravas blindly and lost his kingdom. Though his righteousness caused hardships, it helped him reach his final goal.
Krishna’s enigmatic smile and wise words always warmed my heart. He gave hope even in the darkest of times. He stood as a constant companion to the Pandavas and always had their back. I loved the friendship between Draupadi and Krishna.
Message taken from The Palace Of Illusions
At the end of our life, our possessions or fame does not come with us on the path of peace. It is our good and bad deeds that are counted. We must concentrate on earning good deeds rather holding onto our possessions.
Having watched the Mahabharata over 3 times, I picked the palace of illusions with a lot of hope. From page one to the last it kept me fascinated.
I recommend all the mythology fans to pick this amazing retelling written by Chitra Banerjee.
TITLE – THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS
AUTHOR – CHITRA BANERJEE DIVAKARUNI
PUBLISHER – PICADOR (2008)
PAGE COUNT – 384