Friday, February 27, 2015

Awesome Adventure with In Freedom's Cause {A TOS Review}

Last year our family was introduced to the awesomeness of Audio Theater Dramas with Under Drake's Flag thanks to being a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We are thrilled to be on the Crew again this year, and even more thrilled that one of our first reviews finds us reviewing the next CD in the Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series from Heirloom Audio Productions, entitled "In Freedom's Cause: The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce."

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review

We received In Freedom's Cause Single Package, which is a 2-CD set with over 2 hours of audio theater entertainment. In addition to the CD's, we were given the In Freedom's Cause Study Guide (digital download), In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack (MP3 download), and a Printable Copy of The Prayer of William Wallace (also a digital download).

Printed in the case is an additional copy of The Prayer of William Wallace, which is the 23rd Psalm from the Latin Vulgate Bible. 

As I mentioned, these audio dramas from Heirloom Audio are theatrical audio adventures, not just a mere audio book. To me, it is like listening to a movie, but getting to make your own pictures in your head. The sound effects and music are wonderful, and the cast is composed of a wonderful group of actors. The one that caught my eye is Billy Boyd, because we love The Lord of the Rings in our home. Joining him in this adventure are Joanne Froggatt, Skandar Keynes, Cathy Sara, James Cosmo and Brian Blessed resuming his role of Mr. George, along with quite a few more.

As the story opens we are reintroduced to Ned and Gerald, our old friends as they meet up again with Mr. George aka G.A. Henty. G.A. Henty is the real life author of these historical stories that Heirloom Audio has been bringing to life. Though it is wonderful to meet up with Ned, Gerald and Mr. George and we can reminisce as Mr. George shows them a model of the Golden Hinde, the stories of Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's Cause are not connected to each other in any other way.

This is the true story of Scotland's fight for freedom from the tyranny of England in the late 13th, early 14th centuries. Both William Wallace and Robert the Bruce played a part in liberating Scotland.  William Wallace paved the way for King Robert the Bruce to finally be victorious after Wallace's death by the hands of King Edward I.

The story is told from the view of Ned Forbes, who we are first introduced to as his mother reads Psalm 23 from the Psalter to him. Dame Forbes finally decides it it time for him to know the truth about his father's murder and the details of how they were allowed live in their own castle after Sir John Kerr killed his father. This sends Ned on a quest to become trained in swordsmanship so he can exact revenge on Sir John Kerr. However, he becomes embroiled in the fight for the freedom of his county after learning from master Sandy Grahame that Scotland had lost its freedom thanks to the betrayal of the Scottish noblemen. Some time after banding together with his friends as the "Scottish Avengers," he is introduced to William Wallace and joins the cause of Scotland.

Through the years that he is with William Wallace, he is shown to be a faithful friend. Wallace explains the Celtic Knot to him, emphasizing the pledge to "Stay true to God, stay true to your brothers and stay true to Scotland!" He also shares the secret to his success, which isn't his famous Claymore but his Psalter, the Word of God. England's army always outnumbers Wallace's, but Wallace is able to lead his men to victories until they are betrayed in July of 1298 by Sir John Comyn.

 After this defeat, Wallace leaves Scotland, in the hopes that his absence can unite the nobles and the common people against the King of England.  Unfortunately, the nobles signed a treaty with the king of England which wasn't in the best interest of Scotland.  Wallace returns after several years away and again takes control. However, Scotland wasn't free until after his death, which is where Robert the Bruce comes in. You'll just have to listen to the CD for yourself to see how this story ends, because I don't like to give away endings.

The majority of the time we listened to In Freedom's Cause in the van, the same way we did with Under Drake's Flag. There were times we listened at home during rest time.

We don't spend a lot of time on reviewing the material as the children are young, and I prefer for these dramas to be fun for the children to listen to. However, we did spend some time in the Study Guide, just so I could see if they were retaining any information. There are Listening Well questions, Thinking Further discussions, and Defining Words.  I tend to use the Listening Well question, as the Thinking Further discussions are a bit deep for the children. I also really enjoyed looking up pictures of the defining words to share with the children. For instance, we looked up Claymore, Celtic knot, and Golden Hinde. As the children get older, I can see digging deeper and really using the study guides to get some great insights. 

Toward the end of the Study Guide, there is a page of information on the History of Scotland that leads up to the beginning of the story of In Freedom's Cause. Additionally, there are 3 little Bible Studies. These Bible studies look at the themes in the story. 

One of the first themes that comes up in the opening scene is that of Fearing No Evil. Ned couldn't understand how God could be a loving shepherd to his sheep if he would let them die such horrific deaths before their time. He didn't see how God's mercy was following him. His mother explained that God may not keep us from evil or from death, but he will be with us, even in the shadow of death. After William Wallace's death, Ned has a chance to share these same insights with his friend Gerald who couldn't understand how a loving God could allow a faithful servant to die such a horrendous death as Wallace did. 

The second Bible Study focuses on Vengeance and Forgiveness. This was something Ned and William Wallace needed to work through as both had wanted revenge for wrongs against their families. Wallace learned we need to trust God to make things right as He is the one who can exact vengeance. He wanted to make sure Ned was fighting for the right reasons.

The third Bible Study is about Freedom, which is a theme that is found throughout In Freedom's Cause.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to In Freedom's Cause. It is a wonderful way to learn about history. This is a story I never remember learning about, so I was quite intrigued. My mother is from England, and my uncle lived in Scotland for a time with his wife and children. It was while they were living there that we visited when I was a child. We even have pictures of us visiting a castle, though I have no idea which one.  This has really ignited a spark in me for wanting to learn more about my English heritage.

Though the children enjoyed listening, I would really recommend this for children who are in upper elementary school and above. Obviously with the subject matter, there are going to be a lot of battles. As I said, they would listen when the story was playing and were paying attention, but they didn't seem to have as much anticipation for wanting to listen to it another time. When I asked Tabitha why this was, she said it was "harsher" (she was comparing it to Under Drake's Flag, which they do ask to listen to a lot). I also think they might have had a bit of trouble at times following the dialogue when someone was speaking with a heavier Scottish accent.  As they get older, and we find ourselves learning about this period in history, I am sure they will enjoy it more.

You can find out more about In Freedom's Cause by following on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Don't forget to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of In Freedom's Cause and how they enjoyed  it with their families.

In Freedom's Cause Review

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