Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Freedom's Cause Audio Drama - A Crew Review

Heirloom Audio Productions has done it again - they’ve produced a rousing, riveting audio drama about Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the full 2 & 1/2 hours! This newest release, In Freedom’s Cause, tells the story of how Wallace, and then Bruce, fought alongside their Scottish countrymen in an historic series of battles, peace times, and unrest that eventually culminated in Scotland’s permanent freedom in 1327 with the Treaty of Edinburgh. We were excited when we learned we were chosen for this review as a part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew.

G.A. Henty, Christian audio drama, In Freedom's Cause

This is the second audio drama we have reviewed from Heirloom Audio Productions, and if possible, is even more exciting than the first one, Under Drake's Flag! For this review we received the In Freedom's Cause Single Package. It includes the 2 Audio CD’s, and three downloadable  extras: a copy of the Prayer of William Wallace, The eStudy Guide, and the In Freedom’s Cause soundtrack MP3 download. The musical score was composed by Emmy Award Winner John Campbell, and is a wonderful collection of the 29 tracks written for this audio drama. I like to listen to the music in the background while doing other things on my computer … like typing reviews. :)

The study guide for In Freedom’s Cause has several sections to help enrich your experience, and to help you explain more of the story and Biblical concepts to your children, especially the younger ones. As the parent, you may wish to start near the end of the study guide by looking over the brief Scottish history notes that help set the stage for the events covered in In Freedom’s Cause. Then I would suggest you head back to the beginning of the study guide and read the biographical sections covering G.A. Henry, Sir William Wallace, and King Robert the Bruce. Now you should be prepped and ready to listen to this terrifically terrifying true tale that includes voices you’ll recognize such as Joanne Froggatt, Billy Boyd, and Skander Keynes. I was a little disappointed when I learned that Billy Boyd’s character turns out to be a traitor, but you’ll need to listen to the audio drama yourself to find out how that unfolds!

There are various ways to both listen to the story, and use the study guide. The method you choose will probably depend on a couple key points. First up for consideration is the age of your children and their familiarity with the 1200's and 1300’s. If you, or your children, have not brushed up on your 1300's vocabulary recently, you may want to visit the study guide first before listening to the drama. In the study guide, there are three types of supplements for each segment (4-10 minutes long) of the story. There are Listening Well and Thinking Further questions, but probably most importantly are the Defining Words lists. These short lists let you know about the unusual words used in each section. While you may know the definition for many of these words, such as: glade, monastery, incorrigible, tartan, and usurp, your children may not know the first thing about what a dunderhead is. I highly recommend helping your younger children look these words up before listening to each section.

If you’re ready to jump right in and start listening to this great tale, use the second approach: keep a piece of paper handy, and make notes on the words you don’t understand. There is plenty of context in the story for most listeners about ages 12 and up to figure out these defining words themselves. If your children are in the 6-12 year old range, you probably want to help them out with these words.

Also included in the Study Guide are three Bible Studies to help you and your child get a deeper understanding of the main themes of this look at the lives of Wallace and Bruce. They include I Will Fear No Evil, Vengeance and Forgiveness, and Freedom. Even though Arlene and Emily understood these themes while listening, I am planning to have each of them do the Bible Studies during the next month as reinforcement.

At our house we love a good story, and this audio drama is an excellent adaptation of Henty’s book, without all the hefty reading. Arlene (age 14) opened the CD’s and listened to the whole story in one day while waiting for me to get home from work. The next day we took the CD case in the car with us and started listening together. At first Emily (age 16) was not sure if she wanted to listen, because she wasn’t sure she agreed with what Wallace and Bruce did. As the story progressed, so did Emily’s understanding of the great personal sacrifices and struggles both men went through as the people  of Scotland fought for their freedom. Arlene has decided that G.A. Henty’s stories are infinitely more fun to listen to than to read. “I liked In Freedom’s Cause because I love history. I had never learned about this part before. I like the drama version because it is like watching a movie without the video!” She is right. You will feel like you are right in the midst of the sword fighting, walking through the woods, or rowing on the lake trying to help Lady Marjory escape. If you’re blessed to be able to listen at home, you can close your eyes and feel like you’re really there watching the battles.

Heirloom Audio Productions has once again done a stellar job of balancing the telling of the story with the sound effects and soundtrack to make an overall wonderfully delightful experience. Remember that they also have the swashbuckling good drama Under Drake’s Flag available that we reviewed last year. We were really stoked to learn that they are working on two more audio dramas for release later this year. The first one will be Henty’s With Lee in Virginia, a Civil War story.

Gird up your loins, gather up your children, and get ready for some rousing Scottish history with In Freedom’s Cause!

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