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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Power Grid

10 Action Librarians

Dean Corso

Dean Corso

Liana Telfer: You work for money I take it.
Dean Corso: What else?

Sly, dirty-dealing, and world traveling are hardly descriptors that leap to mind when confronted with the traditional image of “librarian”. Not to mention chain-smoking, open to bribes, and fighting a cult of Satan-worshipers. But you’ve got to give Dean Corso a break. Though not technically a librarian, bibliophile Dean Corso is close enough for government work, and simply too good to pass up for this Grid.

Corso is the main character from Roman Polanski’s unintentionally hilarious piece of horror camp The Ninth Gate, in which he is played by none other than the always-enjoyable Johnny Depp. A rare-books expert who procures his wares by somewhat questionable means, Corso knows every back-alley slimeball paper-peddler from here (wherever here is) to Timbuktu. Motivated entirely by money and the chance of one-upmanship, Corso is called in to authenticate a wealthy collector’s seventeenth-century manuscript of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, a book purportedly authored by the Devil himself. Having heard that two other copies exist in European collections, the Satan-obsessed book hobbyist, Boris Balkan, is concerned that his is not the real version, and pays Corso to go and inspect the others to determine which is the forgery. Why of so much concern? The ‘real’ copy contains engravings that, when decoded and spoken aloud, are supposed to summon Lord Morningstar. Some people have too much time on their hands.

What starts out as a curious but straightforward job gets strange and messy fast, as Corso ends up on the run across the Continent from mysterious thugs, murderous Satanic cultists, and the succubus-like widow of the owner of a copy of The Nine Gates who died under…suspicious circumstances. Everyone wants to get their hands on these books. That’s not even mentioning the strange woman who keeps showing up to help him, who may or may not be an archangel, like he’s going to buy into any more of this nonsense. Near exsanguination, thrice near-immolation, and few good old-fashioned beatings would be enough to turn most people away, but here is a man set to get his job done, and collect a big, fat paycheck. He might be the least moral guy on this Grid, but boy, is he fun to watch get into trouble.

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  • Anonymous

    im having the worst day of work (at the library), but this totally made my day.  see also: rex libris and jack of fables.

  • Shard Aerliss

    lolz “sand-ninjas” and ”negative Arab stereotype” in the same paragraph. Ah, but Omid Djalili has made a career out of subverting and making fun of negative stereotypes, including those of white Britons. I think he’s allowed a free pass on this one.

    I love Evie. She’s a wonderful character. Smart, beautiful, courageous, resourceful, loving and strong.

    Wrote a rant about JK Rowling and her uselessness… then decided that this was completely off topic. You should totally thank me for deleting it :P

  • nmlop

    I read the first line of this and was already saying to myself, “‘Ook, ook’ said the Librarian.”

  • Abel Undercity

    Seconded for Rex Libris, but to pick a character for this list, my vote would be for Circe, who quelled an entire barbarian horde with her Librarian Voice.

    The Librarian Voice is a Thing.  Fear it.

  • Frodo Baggins

    I think Ninth Gate was intentionally hilarious. The satanic cult in particular seemed like Polanski doing a riff on his own villains from Rosemary’s Baby.

    And the climax is the main character fucking a demon in front of a burning church? Yeah, pretty sure that’s meant to seem ridiculous. It’s a very metaphorical, fable-y tale, not meant to be taken entirely seriously. Also, AMAZING SCORE.

    If we’re expanding the list to include book dealers, perhaps you would consider Umberto Eco’s trio of ephemera-enthused publishers in Foucault’s Pendulum. They don’t get into a lot of fisticuffs, but they are certainly badass on an intellectual front. 

    Great list! I’mma check out this Abhorsen story.

  • Anonymous

    I’d have to nominate Sheska from Fullmetal Alchemist. She was fired from the library for reading instead of shelving; her photographic memory proves invaluable to the Elric Brothers’ search for the Philosopher’s Stone. First, though, the brothers have to rescue her from the mountain of books she’s literally buried under in her home…

  • Francesca M

    OH I forgot Lirael was a librarian! I need to reread those! But why can’t I find my copy of Sabriel!

  • DH

    This is the best Power Grid yet (said the admittedly-biased librarian)!

    As much as I enjoy Sabriel, Lirael is one of my heart’s heroines. I drew fanart of the Library of the Clayr when I was a teenager.

  • DH

    Ohhh the Abhorsen series is so great. I hope you like them.

  • Anonymous

    You’re discussing action librarians and there’s no mention of the characters in Library War?

  • Emma M.

    I squeaked with glee at a mention of Lirael/the Abhorsen trilogy. I haven’t thought about those fabulous books since my elementary school book fair days. Time for an adult-re-read. I think yes.

  • Naomi Kietzke Young

    Just go to Audible and download the audiobooks. They’re narrated by Tim Curry. You can’t go wrong there, can you?

  • Anonymous

    Don’t like the lumping of introversion into a group of negative traits by Wikipedia. Love your list though.
    Maybe your next list could be 10 introverted BAMFs. As an introverted female I’m getting tired of the conflation of introversion with meekness. I always identified with women like Scully and Ripley, neither one seems like an extrovert.

  • dreamer

    Oh goody, I saw the title for this and immediately thought of Lirael so I’m so glad she made it onto the list (forgot about Wan Shi Tong though, probably because he was only in two episodes).  And seconding the comment about Library War/Toshokan Sensou (alternate timeline where one of Japan’s laws got interpreted a little differently and has created two huge factions, the Media Betterment Committee which fights for censorship and the Library Defense Force who are literally military trained librarians who can and will protect the libraries with a gunfight if they have to). And, it isn’t a library in the traditional sense but another anime, Armed Librarians: the Book of Bantorra, does have a full cast of action librarians with a dangerous library and other people who really want to steal their books (books in this case being tablets created after a person dies that has their entire life recorded in them, it’s a bit strange).

  • Anonymous

    Where is Rex Libris?

  • lemone

    Glad to see Barbara Gordon on the list.  I’m a huge Batgirl fan, and a librarian.  Barbara Gordon will be returning to the cowl next month as Batgirl in DC’s relaunch of 52 titles, after somehow magically not being shot and paralyzed.  Current Batgirl Stephanie Brown is also a library worker, being a page while she’s in university. 

  • Anonymous

    Rex Libris was the first one I thought of (and he didn’t even make the cut!).  But I am SO SO SO glad, that Yomiko Readman made this list!  That was pure joy to see. As you can see from my avatar. :P

  • Anonymous

    Woohoo for Lirael, Wan Shi Tong, Yomiko, and the Librarian!  Also must second the suggestions of Rex Libris and the anime Library War.

  • Erin

    Erm, Lirael steals the sword from the Chief Librarian’s bedroom.  While she’s sleeping right there.  At midnight.  When all such adventures should begin.  :D  Oh, how I adore that series!

    And this power grid is also awesome.

  • Seanna Lea LoBue

    Also if you haven’t read it is Nepenthe (if I’m remembering correctly) from the Alphabet of Thorn. It is one of my favorite stories by McKillip.

  • Anonymous

    I am definitely checking out the Abhorsen trilogy. I am a librarian in a public library and I often feel the three things all librarians are equipped with (whistle, magical dagger, and voice-activated mechanical mouse) would also be handy where I work. The library is indeed a dangerous place… but usually in a wonderful way.

  • Anonymous

    i guest these lesbozians like to read alot

  • Rebecca Fabian

    What about the librarian from the movie series “The Librarian”?

  • Erin DeLavan

    I like the Cat, formerly known as Chesire because of boundary changes is now the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat.

    From the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series.

  • Erin DeLavan

    I like the Cat, formerly known as Chesire because of boundary changes is now the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat.

    From the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series.

  • Aarie K

    I was also wondering where Flynn Carsen, played by Noah Wyle, (of “The Librarian” movies) is on this list. Seems like a series of 3 movies with the word “librarian” in the title should have made a list about action librarians. Sure, they’re a little campy, but they’re fun.