This is a wonderful novel, part adventure, part magical fable. Aleardo is a young Italian count whose voyages take him to the unknown island of Ocana, where he meets a family of Portuguese nobles and their servant who seems to be an iguana. As the story progresses the differentiation between fantasy and reality blurs, so that towards the end, the narrative shimmers like a hologram, it's most magical. There is also a strong environmental conscience at work, for example the iguana can be seen as a symbol of human relationships between classes and with the natural world. Here is a short quote that spoke to me:
' "...nature is not at peace. She's like a mother whose son is in the grips of some calamity that's forcing him to abandon her. ...she's in a state of alarm, pressing her ear against every outcropping in the air. And so many strange sounds that we take for the creaking of a branch or the whisper of a leaf innocently falling onto a windowsill, well they're nothing other than her scratchings at the door of our cramped and contorted reasonings, her way of begging us not to abandon her..." '
The book is also beautifully translated from the Italian by Henry Martin. It flows much better than do many other translations from Italian that I've read.