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Needless to say, now that Knopf has taken over the franchise, Paolini won't have to put his wizard robes back on anytime soon. Knopf is printing 1.3 million copies of Eldest, a book that significantly expands and enriches Paolini's fictional palette, adding new points of view--including that of Eragon's cousin Roran--and expanding Eragon's emotional range as he struggles against his archnemesis, the evil wizard-king Galbatorix. It's one of those tricky middle novels of a planned trilogy, a dark second act à la The Empire Strikes Back, full of reversals and repercussions and unexpected revelations. But by the end, Eragon can say, to everybody's satisfaction, "I have become what I was meant to be."
After Eldest, the next stop for Eragon will be Hollywood. A movie, featuring John Malkovich and Jeremy Irons, is in production for a scheduled 2006 release. As for Paolini, he has no plans to go to college at this point or even to start going on dates. He's going to keep doing what he has been doing for the past six years: writing from breakfast till an hour before dinner, seven days a week, every week of the year except for Christmas, until the adventure is overfor him as much as for Eragon. "If I wrote a book where all this happened to one character," Paolini says, "no one would believe it."