Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Extraordinary Adventure in Scottish History

In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In our homeschool, we've read some books by G.A. Henty, and we've listened to audiobooks occasionally, but we were recently introduced to the "active listening audio adventure" style of audio theatre. We were excited to receive and review In Freedom's Cause Single Package from Heirloom Audio Productions.
In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review
The passion of Heirloom Audio Productions is to bring history to life through audio drama, engaging the imagination of listeners and helping them feel like they are a part of the story. In Freedom's Cause tells the story of Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, and their fight for Scotland's freedom, based on the original book by G.A. Henty. 
For our review, we received the In Freedom's Cause Single Package which includes the 2-CD set of the audio book, an eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter, a printable copy of The Prayer of William Wallace, and the In Freedom's Cause soundtrack (MP3). Heirloom Audio Productions was also kind enough to give us a downloadable eBook of the original G.A. Henty story "In Freedom's Cause".  I started reading the eBook myself, and love its beautiful color presentation.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Ebook cover "In Freedom's Cause" by G.A. Henty
The CDs come in a beautiful case that has The Prayer of William Wallace printed in the center panel. When I downloaded the eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter, I was so impressed by the quality of the beautiful full-color guide. This is not just a couple of pages of vocabulary words and comprehension questions - it contains excellent background information on G.A. Henty and the major historical characters in this book, as well as the comprehension questions, vocabulary, and discussion questions. I wanted very much to print the entire guide in color, on high quality paper, but my printer is not really up to that task, so we contented ourselves with using the Guide on my desktop and printing only a couple of pages from it. I have included a couple of pictures of the Guide here to give a bit of an idea of how beautiful it is.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Kennady immediately loaded the tracks onto her iPod and started listening. And I'm not kidding when I say "immediately" - as in, I brought in the mail and said something like, "Hey, the freedom's cause CDs came today!" and she couldn't get into the package and get started fast enough. Now, granted, part of her enthusiasm was generated by the inclusion in the cast of two of her current favorite actors, Billy Boyd (from Lord of the Rings) and Skandar Keynes (from Chronicles of Narnia). But the exciting story and 'you are there' quality of the production had her attention as soon as she started listening.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
I got to hold the CD briefly before it was claimed by my daughter!
Believe me, this is so much more than just a book on tape! Every time I listened, I had the sense that it was the audio only portion of a live-action movie filmed on location. The narrator introduces new scenes and provides the necessary commentary to the action, but the story is driven mostly by the dialogue, and the voice actors are outstanding. There is a full score soundtrack, composed by none other than Emmy award winner John Campbell (soundtrack for The Chronicles of Narnia). The accompanying background sounds such as crackling fire and soldiers on the march make the experience very much like 'watching' a movie with your eyes closed!

Kennady listened to the full story on her iPod several times, and on a couple of occasions we listened to the CDs while driving. Kennady and I were both captivated by the story, and I noticed that Landon (and other passengers that happened to be with us at any given time) seemed to be listening quite intently as well. When we started listening, I wondered if the Scottish accents would be a challenge to understanding, but I certainly didn't have that problem, and from my discussions with Kennady, she didn't either. For the most part it was also easy to tell which characters were speaking, even though there were at least four characters that went by the name Sir John!

In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Kennady had me print out the cast poster shown above for her to hang in her room, and she and I have had some good discussions about the events of the story. Although I didn't require her to use the Study Guide as part of her schoolwork, she has read most of it, and she took it upon herself to write out her own answers to the questions. (Please try to ignore our messy desk!)
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break   In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
What we liked best:

  • outstanding quality of production, with a top-notch cast!
  • the Bonus features (eStudy Guide, cast poster, character guide, and printable Prayer of William Wallace) were so beautiful and high quality.
  • although the great leadership and courage of William Wallace is highlighted, it is also very clear that his faith in God and his reliance on Scripture and prayer were what sustained him and gave him the strength and perseverance to lead his people and to endure hardship, grief and loss, and even the torture he faced at his death.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
What I need to mention:

  • although the audio adventure is based on G.A. Henty's story, some changes have been made, so you wouldn't necessarily be able to follow along in your copy of the Henty book.
  • warfare and violence are obviously a part of the narrative, so the intensity of some of the scenes may be too much for very young or particularly sensitive children. 
Our bottom line: This exciting story captured our imaginations, and inspired interest in finding out more about the history of Scotland and her relationship with England over the centuries. I was personally touched by the powerful faith of Sir William Wallace. I heartily recommend In Freedom's Cause for family listening, or for students as they learn about this period of Scotland's history. Heirloom Audio Productions has also produced Under Drake's Flag, which was reviewed by Schoolhouse Crew members last year, and their newest offering, With Lee in Virginia, is scheduled for release near Memorial Day. (Follow on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter for more information on this upcoming release.)
With Lee in Virginia - coming soon from Heirloom Audio Productions

Would your family like to be part of this extraordinary adventure? Here's what you need to know:

Visit the website:

Pricing: In Freedom's Cause Single Package is currently available for $29.97 plus shipping. See the website for other purchasing options and full pricing information.

You can follow Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google+, and on Pinterest.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. 
In Freedom's Cause Review

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Unknown said...

Thank you for this thorough review :)
What age is the youngest you think this would be ok listening for? Thanks! :)

Kym said...

It's hard to say an age, but I think about 10 years old would be the youngest. Although it kind of depends on the child. As I pointed out, with the battle settings, kids who are very sensitive might be really bothered by that.

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