Monday, February 19, 2018

Wulf the Saxon - An Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

Wulf the Saxon - An Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio on Homeschool Coffee Break

We have become loyal fans of the wonderful audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions, so of course we were excited about being able to review their latest adventure! This time the extraordinary adventure brought to life was Wulf the Saxon

Wulf the Saxon - An Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio on Homeschool Coffee Break

Heirloom Audio Productions knows the power of great stories, and the power of great story-telling too! They believe in the importance of learning and remembering Christian history, and their mission is to bring these stories to life by engaging listeners' imagination and taking them back in time with these wonderful stories. The audio dramas they produce are based on the novels written during the late 1800s by master story-teller G.A. Henty. The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty are stories of "virtue and valor, daring and determination, character and courage" and Heirloom Audio tells them using stellar voice acting, realistic sound effects, and wonderful musical soundtracks.

Wulf the Saxon - An Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio on Homeschool Coffee Break

We received the two CD set of Wulf the Saxonthe latest in the series, which takes the listener back to England just before the Norman conquest. As the story opens, Edward the Confessor is king of England, and Wulf is a young landholder in the service of Edward's brother Harold. Wulf has a loyal retainer, Osgod, who accompanies him on all his adventures and is a powerful fighter during the battles they face; and a good friend and ally in another landholder, Beorn. Wulf proves himself loyal and trustworthy, and he becomes a determined warrior and formidable strategist.

Wulf and Beorn are among the men that accompany the Earl Harold on a sailing adventure that ends in disaster when they are shipwrecked on the shores of Normandy. The Englishmen find themselves prisoners of a Norman count, but Wulf and Beorn are able to escape and go to Duke William of Normandy to secure Earl Harold's release. Wulf is also the guest of a Baron DeBurg during this time and becomes friends with DeBurg's son and daughter. Before Harold's return to England, Duke William has him declare an oath of loyalty; however, this is obtained by trickery, as William conceals the fact that Harold has sworn on holy relics until after the oath is given. 

Once back in England, Harold is occupied with maintaining peace with the thanes of the northern lands, and with the Welsh; and Wulf's loyalty and devotion make his service invaluable as a friend and on the battlefields. One of Wulf's greatest accomplishments during this time is the capture of the castle of Prince Llewellyn ap Rhys of Wales. He and Beorn are able to take possession of the fortress and then to capture Llewellyn, which leads to the end of Welsh rebellions for that generation.

Troubles with the northern thanes continued, especially when Earl Tostig (brother to King Edward and Earl Harold) proves disloyal. Eventually, after Edward's death and Harold's ascension to England's throne, Tostig allies himself with Harald Hardrada of Norway, and the English must band together to repel an invasion from Norway. Wulf and Osgod both acquit themselves well in these battles and again prove invaluable to King Harold with their loyalty. The celebration of this great victory was short-lived though, because less than one week later, the invasion force of Duke William of Normandy arrived, and despite the valiant efforts of King Harold, Wulf, and the forces of England, the Battle of Hastings was a decisive victory for Normandy. Thus William the Conqueror gained the crown of England. Although Harold was slain in the battle, Wulf and Osgod survived and were protected by their old friend, Baron DeBurg. And at last, when England was at peace again under a new ruler, Wulf was able to count himself among the fortunate few, for he was able to marry the lady of his choice, DeBurg's daughter Agnes. 

Fortunate are the few who marry for love.

Wulf the Saxon - An Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio on Homeschool Coffee Break

As always, the voice acting, sound effects, and musical soundtrack combined to bring this entire story to dramatic life. Kennady and I felt as though we were right in the action, and it's rather like watching a movie except there is no visual! That part is left to our imagination, but it's easy to picture the scenes and the battles as they are so well portrayed. This story does feature a fair amount of warfare, and the sounds of battle were realistic enough to cause us to wince. These historic battles were bloody and violent, and many men died. Since we hear only sounds and don't see images in listening to this audio drama, it's hard to quantify just how "graphic" the portrayal is, but I would suggest an adult preview before having young children listen to it, because the sounds of bloody combat could be disturbing.

Wulf the Saxon - An Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio on Homeschool Coffee Break

Members of the Live the Adventure Club from Heirloom Audio Productions can look forward to  Bonus Content on the website. We've had access to the club for other Heirloom audio dramas, and the Bonus materials have included read-along scripts, the original G.A.Henty novels as e-books, the complete soundtracks, and of course, the Study Guides. (As of this writing, a Study Guide for Wulf the Saxon is not available but is expected soon) The Club is a resource for educational materials and kids' activities related to their audio dramas, as well as encouraging and informative articles and resources for parents and an interactive online community.

What we liked best:
  • we always enjoy the dramatic plots and exciting stories that make us feel as if we are in the middle of all the action!
  • great quality acting and realistic sound effects
  • stories that highlight true courage and godly character
What I need to mention:
  • this story does have a lot of violent battle scenes, and the sound effects may be too intense for young or very sensitive children
  • keep in mind that these are audio dramas based on the original novels by Henty, so you will not necessarily be able to follow along in the book

Our bottom line: Heirloom Audio Productions has delivered another winner in this powerful story that highlights courage and loyalty, and teaches a bit of history in an exciting way. I found myself wanting to review my knowledge of English history with these fresh insights into what the battles may have been like, and what personal struggles some of the major players may have faced. Although Kennady and I were the ones that listened to Wulf the Saxon from start to finish, my adult son was with us for part of the time and was also drawn right into the story and wanted to know how it ended. Truly I can warmly recommend it for the whole family!

We've reviewed all but one in the series so far, and I recommend all of these extraordinary adventures!  You are invited to 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 Greatour full review of Beric the BritonBeric the Briton - Another Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions; our full review of The Cat of BubastesAn Extraordinary Adventure in Ancient Egyptour full review of In the Reign of TerrorAn Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution; and our full review of Captain Bayley's Heir: Captain Bayley's Heir - A New Audio Adventure.

Wulf the Saxon - An Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio on Homeschool Coffee Break

Would you like to listen to the extraordinary adventure of Wulf the Saxon? Here's what you need to know:
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Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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