Sacred Trust

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Zine
Title: Sacred Trust
Publisher: InkSlinger Press
Editor:
Author(s): Lanning
Cover Artist(s): Suzan Lovett
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 07 October 2001
Medium: print, online
Genre: slash fanfiction
Fandom: Highlander
External Links: Sacred Trust (AO3)
Sacred Trust (author's site via Wayback)
cover
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Sacred Trust is a Duncan/Methos fanzine by Lanning.

It was published in print format in 2001 and has 182 pages, with a limited print run of 100 copies. The novel was later published online and contains 128,963 words.

This zine debuted at ZCon October 12-14, 2001.

Summary

"Duncan and Methos' relationship is in ruins, but things can always get worse. And they do."

Recs and Reviews

2001

Neither excerpt nor the summary gives anything approaching a feeling for this story overall -- they're almost false advertising. What this story is about, more than any other single plot element, is the Light Quickening. [...] This isn't a Methos'-past-comes-back-to-bite-him-on-the-ass story, it's about *Darius* past coming back to bite everyone on the ass. Who was the Immortal Darius killed at the gates of Lutetia? What kind of man had he been before he changed? Have Watchers and Immortals made war on each other before Horton? Did Methos and Darius know each other? How did they both know about the Watchers? What happened to Jack Shapiro? A Duncan/Methos romance is in there, but it's not the focus: this is a slash story that is mostly about other things than the slash.

Lanning has produced an astonishingly rich tapestry of characters and ideas. She's got one of the better characterizations of Maurice going -- I can see his hands wave. Her Richie is youthful, clueless, hungry, a good fighter, insightful, and brave all at once -- I don't know if I've ever seen him presented so clearly as someone who is growing, who is moving ahead in that uneven way young people do. And he gets some great lines. Joe is so important and complex I'm still unwinding what I think about his characterization. Amanda is also very well-done, as are the OCs. No-one is given a stereotypical characterization, everyone is complex and human.

As you can tell from the web excerpt, there's a certain amount of Methostorture, but it doesn't overwhelm the tone of the story. Yes, we have plenty suffering, angst, and bitter regret; yes, I cried more than once. But there's also farce, slapstick, funny lines -- I guarantee it will (further) warp your feelings about the expression "dangly bits." There are knife fights, sword fights, food fights, car thefts, car chases. There are several rounds of the game my daughter calls More Self-Sacrificing Than Thou. There are Quickenings, plain and extra-fancy.

If the Light Quickening is the focus of the plot, the theme of the novel is "faith, hope, and love." How do you know them? What is it like to live without them? What forms do they come in, and how do they change?

I've only just finished reading this novel for the first time, and it's going to take me a lot of thinking and re-reading to figure out all of what I see in it and feel about it. I haven't even said anything about the way Lanning draws Duncan and Methos, for instance, because both of them change and grow too much in the course of the story to be summed up in terms suitable for a Spotter's Guide.

I've read all of Lanning's stories in her various fandoms, and this one is a whole order . . . more. More thoughtful, more complex, more of an emotional rollercoaster (in the best possible way), more willing to get into higher or deeper issues of human history and the meaning of life. Highlander has brought out the best in her, and that it is the best thing I can say about any fandom.[1]
Thanks to Solo's good offices, I've got my hands on this, and given the comments I made based on the excerpt, I thought it was only fair to review the whole item.

First of all, it's a physically delightful item compared to other zines I've seen - the binding is robust, the cover is exquisite, the layout and print crisp and easy to read. There is a curious duplication error of page 107 but that was the solitary error I found. I've never seen a story so impeccably edited and proofed - not a single typo in the entire thing, amazing.

Now for the content. It's very, very funny in parts - the shower scene had me cackling like a fool, and there are many throw away lines which were just delightful. The Richie and Joe characterisation are rich, three-dimensional and utterly true to canon with bells on. Amanda is less strongly drawn, but is compensated for by Joanna and Raphael, two of the best OCs I've ever seen in any story. I'd love to see Joanna take on Aidan Logan - she'd whup her arse. The Watchers are also refreshingly multi-dimensional, as are the villians, and the death of the priest is very moving because Lanning has made us care about him. All the dialogue is very good, often brilliant, and the quality of writing is really to die for.

I'm also going to retire from Methos torture - having seen this, I think I'm a rank amateur <g>. Certainly not for the weak of stomach, and really could have done with more emphatic warnings at the start of the zine. The sex and the m/m interaction is sweet and tender, and believable.

Quibbles - It's Jakob Galati, I thought, not 'Galotti'. I simply don't beleive Richie would say 'get knotted' or repeatedly refer to Methos as 'geezer' - it made him sound like he was from sowf London - it is obvious that Lanning is either a Brit, an Aussie or far too immersed in their idioms <g>. I also wondered if a 7th Century priest would be wearing a cassock? Referring to 'Guiltless Rosemont' seemed a bit one-eyed. The English role in Culloden is not guiltfree.

But I agree with Mary Ellen - it is the finest work, by far, of anything Lanning had produced. She has a beguiling and most readable view of the characters.

Except...

Hero Methos is fine, I mean, I thoroughly believe in his ability to support his friends. But he's not balanced here by Duncan, who *is* a bonafide hero - in this, he exists mainly to be a thoughtless drunken bastard early in the story, and a rather passive supporter in the rest of it. He is an observer and the light in the window, but is uncharacteristically - dare I say, uncanonically - reactive rather than proactive. The balance is tipped too far towards focussing on Methos (boy, did I never think I would say that!). I kept waiting for Duncan to leap into action - and he didn't. Richie seems to take on most of his hero role here, so does Joe.

The mutual apology/forgiveness scene close to the end I simply could not buy as realistic between those two men - maybe between two other guys, but not them. And hey, I've done this myself, I am not saying Lanning is the only one to do it, but she's a much better writer than me, so it sticks out more.

So this brings it down from a perfect 10 for me - 8 out of ten, lower if you are a MacLeod bunny. But is it worth 20 bucks? Well, it's a lot of money for a book, and I'd have been happy to read it off the web. But it is good value, a wonderful, enthralling read, and a cracking yarn which never drags or lapses into mediocrity. How rare is that? [2]

2005

The simultaneous quickenings of Kronos and Silas had some bad after-effects on both Duncan and Methos. But everything goes even more down for Duncan when he took Byron's head, not only everykind of relationship with Methos seems now impossible but the highlander is haunted and rendered sick by strange dreams/memory of... Methos? Joe helped by Richie and Amanda tries to take care and support them trough their ordeal. But it's not counting on the reemergence of a legendary past threat to the Watchers, Lucius Germanicus. This madman, ex-watcher and immortal, hundreds years before, had hunted and killed thousand of Watchers. And Lucius isn't a stranger to Methos which past will be revealed through this epic novel. [...] The author says AU (Alternate Universe) but really it seems more real than the series. The story fits perfectly in the timeline (after Horsemen, Revelation and Prometheus episodes), it takes lot of past events and turn them into something fresh, complex and highly addictive. The whole universe with a fair amount of appropriate and tasteful flashbacks stands fast and strong making the reading a delightful and delicious treat. [3]

2006

An extremely plotty, well-written story that makes you feel like you're in a missing episode. Just about everyone is in this--Duncan, Methos, Darius, Joe, Richie, Amanda--and they're all remarkably well-realized. Also, there is an OC named Sebastian who will break your heart. Some chapters are violent and dramatic, and some are light and funny. [...] When I am done reading this one (this is a long one--it's fourteen chapters and I'm only up to chapter 7), I will send the author some nice email, but what I'd really like to know is how she did it. This is a novel and must have taken at least a year of her life to write. How'd she do it? The writing, plotting, dialogue and characterization are all fantastic. She should be doing this for money. [4]

2007

First thing you should know: I find flashbacks to be unbearably boring. I thought so while watching the series, and I still think so while reading fanfic. With that in mind, you should know that while I read every single flashback the first time I read this story, I only skimmed over them before this rec. And there are a *lot* of them, especially in the beginning. Still, if you don't mind (or, *gasp*, even *like*) flashbacks, I think you'll enjoy them. They're well written and are integral to the plot of the story.

Now then, on to the good stuff. After MacLeod killed Byron (gee, I feel like I've been writing that sentence a lot lately), Methos retreated to The Only Bar In Paris to get very, very drunk. For several weeks. Who knows how long it might have gone on if a panicked Watcher hadn't shown up to announce that an infamous immortal ex-Watcher with a major axe to grind was in town (and, oh yeah, chopping every Watcher he came across into itty bitty bits). And, thanks to (EEEEEEEEEvil) Shapiro, this bad guy has now set his sights on Joe. And Methos. *And* Duncan, Ryan, and Amanda. Yep, it's the Highlander version of team fic.

What I like best about this story is the way that Methos *isn't* abandoned by all of his friends (well, except by Mac) after the Horseman debacle. Yes, what Methos did was unspeakably awful, but that was three *thousand* years ago, and he spent his entire run on the show proving again and again that he was a changed man, usually by pulling Mac's ass out of the fire. Lanning shows us that, just because Duncan MacLeod is judgemental as all hell (which you have to admit that he is, even if you really like the character), that doesn't mean that the rest of the show's characters can't be more understanding, and I really enjoyed her interpretation.

Plus, you know, first time goodness and a happy ending. I know, I'm predictable. But that's why you love me. [5]

2010

This fic embodies the cliché of "poor me" with Methos being the poor one. However, unlike most stories in this genre, this story has a plot and real, believably reasons for Methos to feel sorry for himself, and for the people around him to feel like asses for treating him like shit. Great flashbacks, incorporation of the nuances of the show...I could just go on and on. (warning of a description of past rape, and a fairly graphic, though brief, description of torture) [6]

2016

A Methos story, with the Duncan/Methos relationship. A very intense, electrifying, emotionally satisfying read. Lanning is another of fandom's elite. [7]

Unknown Date

This is such an amazing piece of writing. It's one of those stories that must have been planned and patterned, a fomat of opposites and oppositions circling and resolving in elegant and exact prose. I love the way Lanning Cook sets image against image, ideal against reality, character against character: creates a completely believeable villain and allows him to point up both evil and redemption. (not to mention setting up Joe's disability and his acceptence of it against..well, you'll just have to read it.) There are so many good moments: Amanda throwing tins at the barge, Joanna and Richie tormenting the watchers with anonymous telephone calls, Duncan..not..throbbing...Set aside a day and read it slowly, with chocolate. [8]

References

  1. Mary Ellen Curtin in CriticalEdge. Review of Lanning Cook's "Sacred Trust", 16 October 2001.(Accessed 19 March 2011)
  2. comments by at Tritorella Sacred Trust - Review (possible spoilers), October 31, 2001
  3. zzzyris in duncanmethosfic. Sacred Trust by Lanning Cook, 04 July 2005. (Accessed 19 March 2011)
  4. eveningblue. Some Recs, 18 May 2006. (Accessed 19 March 2011)
  5. 2007 rec at Epic Recs
  6. mogget42. Assorted Slash Recs - Highlander--Duncan/Methos, 04 January 2010. (Accessed 20 March 2011)
  7. comments by kslangley at What was your first fandom?, August 28, 2016
  8. Jay Tryfanstone. Links & Recs. (Accessed 19 March 2011)