Thursday, August 3, 2017

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

By now you might know that we've loved the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions and eagerly look forward to being able to experience and review each new one. The latest, In the Reign of Terror, was no exception! Join us on another extraordinary adventure, this one set in France.

Heirloom Audio Productions

Heirloom Audio Productions has been in the business of engaging the imagination of listeners with great stories about real historical events since 2013. Their exciting audio dramas bring the stories of G.A. Henty to life, with excellent voice acting, realistic sound effects, and moving musical soundtracks. Henty was a master story-teller during the late 1800s, weaving tales of "virtue and valor, daring and determination, character and courage" around historical events and people, seen through the eyes of a fictional young person that he placed on the spot.

In this latest audio drama, In the Reign of Terror, the historical event is the French Revolution. We received the audio drama on a 2-CD set and access to the bonus content online, which includes a downloadable Study Guide to go with the audio drama. More about the Study Guide in a moment, right after I give a quick summary of the story you'll be immersed in.

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

In the Reign of Terror is about a sixteen year old boy from England who goes to live with a French family. Things seem to have settled down a bit after the storming of the Bastille, so Harry's father feels that he will be safe in the country chateau of the St Caux Chateau with the Marquis de St Caux. The Marquis expresses his hope that Harry will develop a friendship with the fifteen-year-old Ernest de St Caux and to feel a part of the family, which also includes three daughters and a younger son. After some time, the situation in Paris has escalated to the point that the Marquis decides he must go there in support of the king and to do his part to stop further violence and chaos. Victor, the fiance of Marie de St Caux, escapes to the chateau after a mob has stormed his family's estate and insists that the entire St Caux family flee to their home in Paris for safety. Unfortunately, Paris proves to be a very dangerous place as well, because soon afterwards, the sans-culottes storm the Tuileries Palace and imprison the royal family, and the Legislative Assembly orders the arrest of all members of noble families. At this point, the Marquis orders his trusted servant to flee Paris with his sons and take them to safety in England; and sends his daughters to live with a trusted relative who is not nobility. Harry refuses to leave with Ernest, insisting that he will be safe in Paris because he is not of noble blood, and that by staying he may be able to be of assistance to the girls. Victor also stays, to be near his father and Marie. It is not long, however, until Victor's father, the Marquis, and the Dowager Marquise de St Caux are all executed. When Harry delivers this horrible news to the girls, they have also just found out that their brothers were caught and executed also. Then Marie is captured and imprisoned, and Harry looks for a way to free her and get the girls out of France. He does a kindness for an elderly man who turns out to be Robespierre, and winds up employed as a secretary to him in hopes of using his position and the favor owed to him to get Marie out of prison. He is able to get travel papers to use in getting the family out of France, and manages a daring rescue of Marie. Marie chooses to stay in Paris with Victor, who is recovering from an injury and cannot travel; but Harry and the two younger girls, Jeanne and Virginie, escape to the coast looking for passage to England. Even there the danger follows and the girls are arrested and sentenced to death, so Harry and some new friends must pull off another daring rescue attempt before finally making their way to England and safety.

As expected, we listened spellbound to the fast-paced action of this story, as Harry's quick thinking saves the young girls from a vicious dog and as Harry and Ernest boldly participate in a wolf hunt. These scenes, and those that take place later in Paris, are intense and I think they could be frightening for young listeners. The horror of mob violence and cruelties and injustices of the revolution are portrayed through the excellent voice acting and sound effects that are realistic enough to give a sobering sense of just how terrible and dark this period of French history was. The story did not shrink from the awful truth of what happened, but does highlight the courage and faith of the main characters, and that their nobility is in their character and not just in their blood. In a couple of places, the French Revolution is contrasted with the American War for Independence, and the stark differences are made clear. Where the American patriots tried every means possible to resolve their dispute peacefully, and engaged in war only when no other options remained; the French revolution was characterized by the senseless mob violence, mock trials, and cruel murder of civilians and nobles who had committed no crimes. While the founding fathers in America sought God and understood liberty and equality in light of God as their Creator, the French revolutionaries rejected God and Christianity and made a mockery of equality and justice.

In the Reign of Terror

I downloaded the Study Guide to start looking through. I really didn't think we'd use it at present, because we're on summer break from school after all! But I had in mind that we might use it in the coming school year when we do spend some time in European history and will be discussing the French Revolution in more detail. I feel that with each story in this audio drama series, Heirloom Audio makes some improvements to the Study Guides, and that this one is the best yet. I'm not sure how the next one could be improved, to be honest! Anyway, the Study Guide contains background information on the setting and historical characters in the story; and for each chapter of the story presents a full page (or more) of comprehension questions, discussion and thought-provoking questions, and vocabulary words. An "Expand Your Learning" feature is also included for many chapters that gives further background on things like French fashion and architecture, or on the documents or ideas mentioned. Each chapter of the Study Guide lets you know which track on the CD or at what time stamp on the MP3 it's referring to. Love that. I also love the full color and 'parchment' look presentation, although that makes it not so great for printing out.  At the end of the Guide, you'll find a list of suggested further reading and three Bible studies based on themes in the story.

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
biography of Robespierre

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
sample of questions for comprehension and discussion

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
background on the Declaration of the Rights of Man

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
background on the guillotine

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
contrasting the American War for Independence with
the French Revolution

Something new just launched by Heirloom Audio is the Live the Adventure Club. It's a website subscription service where you'll find the downloadable bonus content that reviewers have been enjoying for In the Reign of Terror - the original eBook, the soundtrack, posters, a wallpaper download, the script download, and of course the Study Guide and Discussion Starter! In addition, Live the Adventure Club offers helpful parent resources and a discussion forum, and access to educational guides and activities. Members will also receive the physical CDs for the newest audio adventures when they are released, three times a year. If you sign up for the free three-month trial, you'll get instant access to the digital version of the very newest, Captain Bayley's Heir, and you can get the CD version mailed to you for just a dollar. Pretty good deal, if you ask me!

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

What we liked best:
  • a well-crafted story that consistently highlighted faith in God as the source of strength during horrible events and times of intense grief.
  • vividly acted drama and rich soundtrack. As I've said before, these audio dramas are much like 'watching' a movie where there is nothing visual!
  • excellent study guide that makes it easy to learn more about this history in a Biblical context.

What I need to mention:
  • this period of French history was full of injustice and violence, and the audio drama portrays that. For this reason, young or sensitive children may find this story too intense and frightening. Of all the dramas from Heirloom Audio that we've listened to, I did find this one the most disturbing, probably because the violence was against innocents rather than in the context of war.
  • there is no answer key for the questions in the Study Guide, so you'll need to listen and decide for yourself what the correct answers would be.

Our bottom line: We have learned to look forward to each new installment of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty from Heirloom Audio Productions, and once again, we were entertained and educated with a thrilling story of suspense and courage. In the Reign of Terror is a powerful addition to our audio library, and I warmly recommend it as an excellent addition to the library of any family looking for wholesome entertainment that brings history to life.

As I mentioned, we've reviewed all but one in the series so far, so if you're interested in more extraordinary adventures, be sure to also check out our full review of In Freedom's CauseAn Extraordinary Adventure in Scottish Historyour full review of With Lee In VirginiaAn Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginiaour full review of The Dragon and the RavenAn Extraordinary Adventure With Alfred the Great; our full review of Beric the BritonBeric the Briton - Another Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions; and our full review of The Cat of Bubastes: An Extraordinary Adventure in Ancient Egypt.

Heirloom Audio Productions

Would your family like to come along on this extraordinary adventure? Here's what you need to know:
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Pricing: See the Heirloom Audio website for purchasing options and full pricing information.

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Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews.

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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