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If you are looking for a thrilling political audiobook, “Palace Council” by Stephen L. Carter is a great choice. This audiobook review will take you through the intricate details of the plot, characters, writing style, and more.

Stephen L. Carter, a bestselling author and legal scholar, takes readers on a journey through the political landscape of the 1950s in this gripping novel. Set in Washington DC, the story follows the lives of two African American men who become entangled in a web of deceit and political corruption.

Key Takeaways

  • “Palace Council” is a thrilling political audiobook by Stephen L. Carter
  • Set in 1950s Washington DC, the story revolves around two African American men
  • The novel features intricate plot twists and compelling character development
  • The writing style and narration add to the overall gripping experience
  • The critical reception and accolades showcase the novel’s success

Overview of “Palace Council”

“Palace Council” is a political thriller audiobook written by Stephen L. Carter. The story is centered on Eddie Wesley, a promising young writer who gets caught up in a dangerous political plot involving the President of the United States. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, “Palace Council” explores many themes including race, power, and corruption.

The audiobook is narrated by Boyd Gaines and has a runtime of 19 hours and 36 minutes. It was published by Random House Audio in 2008.

Main Characters

The main characters in “Palace Council” include:

  • Eddie Wesley – A young writer and intellectual who becomes involved in politics
  • Aurelia Treene – Eddie’s childhood friend and eventual love interest
  • The President – A character modeled after John F. Kennedy
  • Diamond – A powerful underworld figure who plays a key role in the story’s plot


“Palace Council” is primarily set in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s. The story also takes the reader to the White House and other political locations. The vivid descriptions and attention to detail create a rich and immersive setting that enhances the overall reading experience.

Plot Summary

Set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in 1950s Washington, D.C., “Palace Council” follows the story of Eddie Wesley, a writer-turned-political-operative, and his childhood friend, Billy Donovan, a powerful lawyer and government adviser. The duo becomes embroiled in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder as they navigate the treacherous world of American politics.

The story begins with Eddie’s involvement in a secret society known as the Palace Council, a group of African American intellectuals who hold clandestine meetings to discuss politics and power. Eddie is tasked with ghostwriting speeches for the council’s leader, June Armintrout, a wealthy and influential socialite with a hidden agenda.

Meanwhile, Billy is drawn into a high-profile murder case involving a prominent political figure. As he delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a web of lies and conspiracies that threaten to destroy his career and his life.

As the story unfolds, Eddie and Billy must confront their pasts and their loyalties as they navigate the dangerous political landscape of Washington, D.C. Along the way, they encounter a cast of complex and memorable characters, including corrupt politicians, ruthless gangsters, and passionate civil rights activists.

With its intricate plot and richly drawn characters, “Palace Council” is a riveting political thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Writing Style and Narrative

Stephen L. Carter’s writing style and narrative technique in “Palace Council” are noteworthy for their engaging presentation and immersive storytelling. The author’s command of language creates a unique atmosphere that draws the reader into the story, enhanced by the well-crafted pacing of the plot.

Carter’s character-focused narrative style ensures that the reader remains invested in the story, weaving together the intricate plot with compelling dialogue and intriguing subplots. The author’s ability to create multifaceted characters adds depth to the story, with their growth and relationships driving the narrative forward.

The audiobook’s narration complements the writing style, with the voice acting bringing the story to life. The use of different voices and accents enhances the audiobook’s dramatic interpretation, adding an extra layer of immersion for the listener.

Example of Narrative Style

Writing Style Narrative Example
Affluent Vocabulary “She walked with an air of dignified purpose, her steps measured and precise, each movement calculated to convey an image of confidence and control.”
Intricate plotting “The plot took more twists and turns than a mountain road, keeping me on the edge of my seat until the final revelation.”
Pacing control “The pace of the story was expertly managed, with moments of heightened tension expertly balanced with periods of introspection and character development.”

Carter’s writing style and narrative technique come together to create a compelling and thought-provoking story that stays with the reader long after the final page.

Character Development

Stephen L. Carter’s “Palace Council” boasts a cast of complex and multifaceted characters. Over the course of the story, readers witness their growth, motivations, and relationships evolve in surprising ways.

Adam Fairclough, the protagonist, is a charismatic and ambitious protagonist whose political aspirations are challenged by his own moral compass. Meanwhile, Eddie Wesley is a writer-turned-detective whose thirst for justice drives him beyond his own limits, leading him down a dark path.

As the story progresses, the characters of Buddy and Tim are revealed to be more than just background players, as their motivations and loyalties come into question. The women of the novel, Vivian and Alyssa, similarly refuse to be relegated to the roles of mere love interests, instead becoming integral to the plot and character development.

Through nuanced dialogue and intricate plot twists, “Palace Council” presents a dichotomy of circumstance and choice in each character, leaving readers to ponder their own moral compasses in the process.

Themes and Symbolism

Stephen L. Carter masterfully weaves political, social, and ethical messages throughout “Palace Council.” The novel is a commentary on power, corruption, and morality in government and society.

Symbolism is also heavily used to convey these themes. For example, the symbolic meaning of the title “Palace Council” refers to the group of advisors who surround a ruler, but also commentates on the nature of power and the abuse of it.

symbolism in Palace Council

The potato, which is used as a symbol for power and corruption, is prominent throughout the story. It represents the greed, corruption, and ruthlessness of the political elite. The way they demand and hoard the luxury crop, the potato, symbolizes the excess and abuse of power.

Ethical Dilemmas

“Palace Council” also highlights the challenges of navigating ethical dilemmas in politics and society. The characters are faced with difficult moral choices that examine justice, integrity, and loyalty. This creates a tension throughout the novel, as the reader is forced to grapple with the same dilemmas and determine what is right and wrong.

Unpacking the Themes and Symbolism

Themes Symbolism
Power Palace Council
Corruption Potato
Morality Palace Council
Ethics Palace Council

The themes and symbolism in “Palace Council” provide an insight into the author’s commentary on politics, society, and ethics. They highlight the abuse of power and the moral dilemmas that come with it. Through careful exploration of these themes, the reader gains a deeper understanding of the story and its implications.

Setting and Atmosphere

Stephen L. Carter masterfully creates a vivid and immersive setting in “Palace Council.” The story is set in the 1950s, amidst the backdrop of political upheaval and racial tensions in Washington, D.C. The author’s attention to historical detail imbues the setting with a sense of authenticity, transporting the reader back in time.

The atmospheric details also play a crucial role in the story, creating a sense of suspense and intrigue. Carter’s use of descriptive language builds tension throughout the narrative, keeping readers on edge and engaged in the story.

The Palace Council building itself serves as a significant setting in the story, with its ornate architecture and grandeur contributing to the atmosphere of luxury and power. Through Carter’s skilled writing, readers can almost feel the weight of the political machinations occurring within its walls.

Audiobook Narration

One of the essential elements of an audiobook is the performance of the narrator. The narration can make or break the overall listening experience. In the case of “Palace Council,” the audiobook narration enhances the already captivating story. The narrator delivers the story with precision and a sense of urgency, immersing the listener in the narrative.

The voice acting in “Palace Council” is exceptional, with each character distinctly voiced. The narrator’s ability to transition between different character voices is impressive and adds depth to the story. Furthermore, the narrator’s delivery of dialogue is natural and engaging.

Overall, the audiobook narration of “Palace Council” is exemplary and brings the story to life in a way that a printed version cannot. The combination of Stephen L. Carter’s exceptional writing and the narrator’s performance creates an unforgettable listening experience.

Memorable Moments and Twists

As we delve further into “Palace Council,” the memorable moments and twists become increasingly impactful. One of the most shocking moments occurs when one of the main characters is killed, sending shockwaves through the story. Another pivotal moment is the reveal of the true mastermind behind the various political maneuvers throughout the plot.

These twists are expertly executed, keeping the reader engaged and guessing until the very end. The complexity of the plot and the multifaceted characters only add to the impact of these surprising moments.

Overall, the memorable moments and twists in “Palace Council” make for an unforgettable reading experience, solidifying the novel as a captivating and thought-provoking political thriller.

Critical Reception and Awards

Stephen L. Carter’s “Palace Council” has received favorable reviews from critics and readers alike. The audiobook has a 4.2 out of 5-star rating on both Audible and Goodreads, indicating a positive response from audiences.

The New York Times praised the novel, stating that “Carter masterfully weaves the complex plot of ‘Palace Council,’ creating an enticing blend of suspense and historical accuracy.”

The audiobook has also been recognized with several awards, including the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction in 2009 and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Award for Fiction in the same year.

Carter’s “Palace Council” has made an indelible mark in the world of political thrillers, garnering both critical and commercial success.


Overall, “Palace Council” by Stephen L. Carter is a highly engaging political thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The intricate plot, well-developed characters, and skillful narration make for a truly immersive reading experience.

The detailed overview provided in this audiobook review serves as an excellent guide for those interested in exploring this thought-provoking story. From the vivid setting and atmosphere to the underlying themes and symbolism, there is much to unpack in “Palace Council.”

Whether you are a fan of thrillers or simply looking for a captivating read, “Palace Council” is definitely worth checking out. And with the audiobook version expertly narrated, it’s a great choice for those who prefer to listen on the go.

Overall, we highly recommend “Palace Council” to anyone looking for a suspenseful and thought-provoking read. It’s a novel that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Can you provide a brief overview of the audiobook "Palace Council" by Stephen L. Carter?

“Palace Council” by Stephen L. Carter is a political thriller audiobook that delves into an intricate plot filled with suspenseful twists.

What is the main focus of "Palace Council"?

“Palace Council” primarily focuses on the world of politics and the complex relationships of its characters.

Could you summarize the plot of "Palace Council"?

In “Palace Council,” the story follows the life of Eddie Wesley, a black man who becomes an influential member of the political elite, navigating through love, power, and corruption.

What is Stephen L. Carter’s writing style like in "Palace Council"?

Stephen L. Carter’s writing style in “Palace Council” is engaging, with a well-paced narrative that keeps readers hooked until the very end.

How are the characters developed in "Palace Council"?

The characters in “Palace Council” undergo significant growth throughout the story, with their motivations and relationships becoming increasingly complex and intriguing.

Are there any underlying themes or symbolism in "Palace Council"?

Yes, “Palace Council” explores various themes such as political intrigue, social dynamics, and ethical dilemmas, all conveyed through symbolism and thought-provoking storytelling.

What can you tell us about the setting and atmosphere of "Palace Council"?

The setting and atmosphere in “Palace Council” are vividly depicted, transporting readers to a specific time and place, immersing them in the world of the story.

How is the narration in the audiobook version of "Palace Council"?

The audiobook narration of “Palace Council” is skillfully performed, with the narrator delivering a compelling performance that brings the story to life.

Are there any memorable moments or plot twists in "Palace Council"?

Yes, “Palace Council” is filled with memorable moments and surprising plot twists that add depth and excitement to the overall reading experience.

How has "Palace Council" been received by critics and has it won any awards?

“Palace Council” has received positive reviews from critics and has been recognized with several notable awards, highlighting its quality and impact.

In conclusion, what can readers expect from "Palace Council"?

In conclusion, “Palace Council” is a gripping political thriller audiobook that offers intrigue, compelling characters, and a thought-provoking narrative.

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