We have become huge fans of the audio dramas produced by Heirloom Audio Productions. Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we recently had the opportunity to receive their newest release called The Dragon and the Raven.
We received the physical set of 2 CD's plus digital downloads of some really neat extras:
- The Dragon and The Raven MP3 Set
- The Dragon and The Raven Ebook
- Official MP3 Soundtrack
- Printable Cast Poster
- Study Guide and Discussion
- Inspirational Verse Poster
- Live the Adventure Letter and
- The Dragon and The Raven Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
These bonuses (minus the MP3 Set of the audio drama) are available with purchase of the Family Four Pack for $99.97. You can also purchase the 2-CD set for $29.97 and receive the MP3 instant access download of the audio drama, plus the study guide, Inspirational Verse Poster, and the Soundtrack.
We have gone on several adventures with Mr. George, Ned, and Gerald by listening to these audio adventures. This time we traveled back in time to listen to an adventure from the ninth century. The Dragon and the Raven is a story about King Alfred the Great from England and the fight against the Danes. This was of quite the interest to the children because we had learned about the Danes in our American History lessons with our core curriculum. However, we knew them as Vikings. We had learned about the Vikings discovering North America in the year 1000, over a hundred years after the events in this CD take place.
At the point in history in which this fictionalized true account takes place, the Danes were mighty warriors, both on the sea and on land, who were completely ravaging and plundering England. They showed no mercy, not even to women or children. Christians were tortured and beheaded all in the name of the Dane's religion that required war and blood for their false god Odin.
As our story begins, we find Edmund with his dog Wolf, worrying about his dad and friend Egbert who have been gone almost a week. They arrive home with terrible news of the death of King Edmund and the need to travel to Lincolnshire and then on to Wessex in the hopes of standing against the enemy. Edmund questions why the pagan Danes are winning against them as they are Christians and should have God on their side.
While his father places his trust in fighting, his uncle Theodore puts his trust in God. He tries to impress upon his brother Eldred the importance of what Eldred feels is just poetry, but is in fact the very Word of God. While visiting with him in the abbey at Lincolnshire, Edmund's father is called upon to fulfill an oath and stand with Algar against the Danish army. It is here that Edmund sees with his own eyes the terror the Danes strike into the hearts of the Saxons. It is also here that Edmund loses his father and soon after he loses his uncle as well. He and Egbert plus a new friend Harold journey on toward Wessex where King Ethelred and Prince Alfred rule.
Edmund needs to prove himself in battle in order to be of use to Ethelred and Alfred. Which he does a couple of weeks later when the Danes attack and he attempts to protect the king. Unfortunately he didn't succeed due to being attacked, and Alfred then becomes king. As our story moves on, Edmund learns the importance of trusting in God. It becomes clear that their country is failing because they have lost their faith in God and become disobedient. They have also lost their knowledge because of lack of reading and writing skills. King Alfred is very passionate about the importance of faith in God and literacy and how both are necessary to strengthen the country. They learn the value of commitment to God and each other. They also discover what it means to be able to love your enemy and have mercy. Mercy that ultimately leads to their victory over the Danes.
Throughout the story you will find land battles, battles on the sea, a time of captivity, and even a romance. We see Edmund grow into a strong man who helps the king in his fight against the Danes. Over all, there is the focus on God being the one to lead them into battle, faith in Him being the fire in their dragon.
Our family has enjoyed listening to The Dragon and the Raven on our trips in the van, and in our living room. The one benefit of living in a rural community is being able to listen to long CD's on our way to go shopping or to the dentist's office. Listening at home is usually reserved for times we are resting, say on a Sunday afternoon. I will use that time to ask the children some of the questions from the study guide. We also enjoy looking up different items in our search engine, such as Alfred's Jewel and statues of King Alfred the Great.
Speaking of the study guide, it is a wonderful help for making sure the children are understanding what is going on in the story. Here is a little more about it.
Each track on the CDs are a section of the story. In the upper corner of the page you will see where on the CD this part of the story takes place. There is a Listening Well section, with literal questions that the children can answer just from listening to the events in the story. There is also a Thinking Further section that is a bit more difficult and involved. Finally, each page has a Defining Words section.
In the back of the Study Guide you will find 3 Bible Studies, a Brief History of Britain and England, and a short section titled: Alfred the Great: A Legacy of Literacy, Law, and Liberty.
I have to share how nicely our lessons have fit with this wonderful review product. As I mentioned, earlier in our school year we learned about the Vikings. Last month I did a short review of early American history in the K-3rd grade co-op class, and we made Viking shields. I was reminded of the shield walls that the Saxons formed, first unsuccessfully, and finally, after learning the importance of commitment to God and others, successfully. So, the children and I went to the park to form our own shield wall.
Oh no, they couldn't hold against the enemy and they are fleeing.
Ah, they had forgotten their swords.
As is usual with these G.A. Henty stories from Heirloom Audio, even I have learned about periods in history I knew little about. Even though my mother is from England, I have minimal knowledge of the history of the country. It was very eye-opening listening to this account of the only English king to have the title "Great" added to his name. I also enjoyed learning how Christianity had fallen away but was again made central thanks to King Alfred the Great. In fact, it also hit a nerve, as our country is heading in the same downward path away from God. God had allowed the enemy to come in and ravage England because his people had turned away from Him. America had at one point also been a Christian country and yet for the past several decades we have turned our backs on Him. What will it take to turn our country back to the Lord, as England did after the attacks of the Danish armies.
And on that note, I guess you can tell I again highly recommend this new audio theater drama from Heirloom Audio. The Dragon and the Raven has become a favorite of our family, up there with their first drama, Under Drake's Flag. If you would like to learn more about Heirloom Audio's other dramas, I invite you to check out my reviews of Under Drake's Flag, In Freedom's Cause, and With Lee in Virginia.
Finally, I asked the children what their favorite part about The Dragon and the Raven was, and these are the replies I received:
Tabitha: I like how the Saxons kept trying and trying!
Amelia: How Harold and Edmund fell in love with Danish girls.
Hannah: The battles. (As a side note, she is my almost 6 year old so I wasn't expecting that response.)
I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the story, one that happens to be in the back of study guide.
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There is also a Dragon and the Raven specific page on Facebook, and one for The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.
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