Heirloom Audio Productions scores another A+ with this drama to entertain and inspire the whole family. Be prepared for battle on land and at sea, and for face-to-face encounters with the mighty Danes, who not only came to conquer, but to terrify. Not only will the story, adapted from G.A. Henry's novel of the same name, transport you, so will the original score produced by John Campbell. The characters are voiced by such superb actors as John Rhys-Davies, Sylvester McCoy, and Helen George.
For those familiar with earlier offerings from the Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series from Heirloom Audio Productions, Ned and Gerald return. They soon learn from Mr. Henty, voiced once again by Brian Blessed, that their names must be changed to Edmund and Harold to travel back to learn about King Alfred the Great. King Alfred was the Anglo-Saxon King from 871-899. He was responsible for defending his people from the invading Danes, established the English navy, and instituting a new system of legal code. He was also heavily involved in the translation of writings from Latin so they could be shared with his people. King Alfred encouraged his people to be literate, and to love one another through their words and actions.
... when we first meet Alfred, he is still a young prince of about 22, and his older brother Aethelred is leading Wessex. Alfred was learning from his older brother that leading a country was no easy task.
Once again, Heirloom Audio Productions has put together a wonderful study guide to help parents and children learn more about this fascinating time in history. The 49 page PDF study guide is divided into sections to correspond with each scene from the audio drama. Most sections cover about 3-4 minutes of the 2+ hour story and include the familiar headings of: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. The story is divided into tracks that are listed in the study guide for easy cross-refernce.
The study guide will be a valuable tool for those unfamiliar with Alfred's story. It begins with a short synopsis of both G.A. Henry's life and King Alfred's life. If your teens are familiar with the history of England or the Danes, they will probably already know at least most of the defining words. For your elementary aged listeners, this is the time to stop the story often and help them understand terms like: relic, basilica, irrevocable, countenance, and flotilla.
Near the end of the Study Guide, you will find suggestions on further reading about King Alfred, as well as three Bible Studies to do as a family. Topics covered include: God's law and the nations, Love your enemy, and Literacy.
This is our family's fourth time to review an audio theatre offering from Heirloom Audio Productions and we have loved every one of them! This production is a well-done as any box-office movie, but without the pictures. We have enjoyed listening to it many times over the past month. We usually listen in the car, and have learned to save it for the longer road trips because no one wants to get out of the car after just 15 minutes of the story ... everyone wants to know what happens next! You can read our previous reviews of Under Drake's Flag, In Freedom's Cause, or With Lee in Virginia simply by clicking on the titles.
As the Mom, I was excited to see that there is a specific webpage that includes all four of Heirloom Audio Productions' offerings, and I think you'll enjoy clicking on the Resources tab on the top right and reading the Live the Adventure newsletter. I have enjoyed their articles and chose to subscribe so each new newsletter comes directly to my email inbox.
The Dragon and The Raven is another masterful use of the power of a story to transmit ideas and ideals. The whole crew at Heirloom Audio Production is passionate about bringing real history to life. Not only do they dig deeply to find out the true history behind G. A. Henty's tales, they travel to the locations where the history happened and use the sounds they find there in the actual productions. One of their taglines is: Christian heroes for Christian kids. These audio theatre stories are not just for kids. I've found myself popping them in the car CD player to listen to when I'm by myself.
By now you might be wondering about those other two digital bonus besides the Study Guide. One of them is a beautiful printable copy of Proverbs 21:31, as quoted by King Alfred in the story. We haven't printed it yet because we ran out of color ink and just restocked this week. It is going to go on the wall by my favorite seat. The other digital bonus is the MP3 of the soundtrack. Why yes, I have been listening to it while typing this review! :)
You are going to want to purchase The Dragon and The Raven for your family. You'll also want to bookmark the Heirloom Audio Productions webpage as they've announced their Spring offering will be: The Cat of Bubastes, featuring Anthony Daniels. If you listen to the very end of The Dragon and the Raven, I think you'll hear a clue of what will come after The Cat of Bubastes!
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