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The Palace of Illusions: A Novel Audiobook, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Narrator: Sneha Mathan Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2008 ISBN: 9781483057293
4.25 out of 54.25 out of 54.25 out of 54.25 out of 54.25 out of 5 4.25 (8 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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This vivid reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic Mahabharata 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 gods and warriors.

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A radiant entrée into an ancient mythology virtually unknown to the Western world…Remarkable.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “An exotic escapist tale…Divakaruni has proven that her storytelling talents put her right up there with the best.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Divakaruni, renowned for her skillful take on women’s relationships, creates a very believable character in Panchaali, a queen who must choose between making history or following her true desires.”


  • “Vivid and inventive…Divakaruni’s rich, action-filled narrative contrasts well with the complex psychological portrait of a mythic princess.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Sneha Mathan expertly handles Divakaruni’s magical retelling of the Indian epic The Mahabharata from a woman’s point of view. Mathan reveals an astonishing versatility and range…Best of all is Mathan’s complex creation of the mythic Princess Panchaali. Listeners will be enchanted by Mathan’s insights into her character as well as by Mathan’s voice, which is beautiful and elegantly expressive…Divakaruni’s deeply imaginative writing and Mathan’s skillful narration make a winning combination.” 


  • “Divakaruni has taken a male-centered story and breathed new life into its female characters, giving us a rich tale of passion and love, power and weakness, honor and humiliation. Whether or not readers are familiar with the Mahabharat epic, still fascinating and relevant several millennia on, they will enjoy this entertaining, insightful, and suspenseful story.”

    Library Journal

  • “By rendering the women characters as complexly as the men, and fully illuminating the ‘insanity of war’ and the fragility of civilization, Divakaruni’s historic and transporting variation adds new and truly revelatory psychological and social dimensions to the great epic’s indelible story of sacrifice and spiritual awakening. Divakaruni has triumphantly fulfilled a profound mission.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Divakaruni has woven a lyrical tale imbued with the scent of ancient incense, yet simultaneously rooted in modern-day relevancy. Brimming with betrayals, religious fervor and war-torn streets, The Palace of Illusions is a journey experienced from the vantage point of Panchaali, a powerful woman driven by love, honor and, in the end, a fate that unfolds despite her resolve."


  • “Gods intervene, divine weapons waylay whole battalions, a fantastical palace inspires a war, yet Divakaruni manages to keep the story human and relevant…an intimate, feminine portrait that is both contemporary and timeless. An ambitious project effectively executed.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aakriti | 6/7/2011

    " good book!!! but you have to keep in mind, that this is fiction! Draupadi did not have sucha BIG crush on KARNA! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cara | 5/30/2011

    " I never wanted this gorgeous book to end . . . "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 VivaPalestina | 5/12/2011

    " Love. There's no argument, no matter how strong, that can overcome that word.

    You call them mine and you call the others theirs...i you'd seen them all as yours to love, this war would never have occurred "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sushmita | 5/4/2011

    " A very good read with an altogether different perspective

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shruti | 4/25/2011

    " I am hooked to this book.. There are so many mysteries I was not aware of .. As I flip through pages , I get more inquisitive to know what lies ahead.. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Manasie | 3/25/2011

    " amazing amazing amazing.... simply amazing!! I am speechless!!!
    loved every detail... :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Terra | 3/4/2011

    " This was a mystical type story that spanned over 10 CD's. I listened in my car and the narrator was great. It kept me wanting more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bineet | 3/2/2011

    " One of the very unique approach towards the MAHABHARAT. A superb read. "

About the Author

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the author of the bestselling novels Queen of Dreams, Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, and The Vine of Desire, and of the prizewinning story collections Arranged Marriage and The Unknown Errors of Our Lives. She lives in Houston, Texas, and is the Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

About the Narrator

Sneha Mathan spent a peripatetic childhood in India, punctuated by a short spell in the Seychelles. Now fixedly based in Seattle, she works as a voice actor and audiobook narrator. Her audiobook work has received four Earphones Awards, and she is a two-time finalist for the Audie Award.