The millenarian cities of Balk in Afghanistan, Samarqand and Buckhara in Uzbekistan, evoke history and legend: from Alexander the Great, here known as Iskander, to the Mongols of Genghis Khan and the Tartars of Timur the Lame, the bloodthirsty conqueror known in the West as Tamerlane. From Samarqand and its bazaar, the millenarian Registan Square, walls washed by rain and enemy blood, its contradictions between Islam, socialism and modernism, we reach Nukus, the forgotten capital of Karakalpakstan. The journey continues to the disquieting discovery of the dying Lake Aral, poisoned by pesticides, nuclear and bacteriological experiments. An expanse of nothing where once there was water, for tens of kilometres is now covered by sand that snares the decaying hulls of merchant ships and fishing boats, like prehistoric monsters. This boat cemetery watches over the death throes of a population with a life expectancy of barely forty years that generates only monsters. An unknown holocaust. In short, truth and legend intertwine in a journey that retraces the steps of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta. This modern adventure abounds in the unexpected, evocations, encounters with the living and the dead, stories recovered in the boundless, remote Central Asia that in the nineteenth century was theatre of the “Great Game” of espionage between the Russians and British.