The Palace Of Illusions is a modern retelling of the epic Mahabharata, through the eyes of Panchaali (Draupadi), the wife of the famous Pandava brothers. Divakaruni has rewritten this epic from a female perspective. The focus of the story has shifted from the original war and honour, to more humanistic concerns. It is an epic saga, surrounding the events of Panchali’s life, while growing up in a male dominated world. The Mahabharata is a narrative about the Kurukshetra war between two families, the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
Panchali is the protagonist of Divakaruni’s story. She is a young girl born out of a special fire ritual that was performed by her father, King Drupada. Right from the start, she leads a lonely and unusual life, without the care of a mother. Her sole companion is her brother, Dhristadhyumna, who was also born out of fire. Panchaali is characterized as an atypical female as she is a woman who is outspoken, self confident, and defiant. She is also interested in the art of warfare and the politics of monarchy.
Her life changes when she falls in love and ends up married to all the five Pandava brothers. As a result of unfortunate circumstances, she ends up living as a servant, and watches her family suffer through a terrible turn of events. The story explores different areas of Panchaali’s life, such as her husbands’ fight to regain their kingdom, and her intriguing friendship with Lord Krishna. Things become more complicated when she is attracted to Karna, a fierce and noble warrior, who is also the Pandavas’ enemy.
The Palace Of Illusions is a woman’s struggle for survival in a man’s world. This book was published in 2009 by Pan Macmillan India.