Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thrilling Audio Adventure with In the Reign of Terror from Heirloom Audio Productions {A TOS Review}

We had the wonderful opportunity of reviewing the newest release from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have loved all of the audio dramas they have put out in the past, and frankly we were giddy with anticipation when we discovered a new adventure was available. When we found out we had been chosen to review In the Reign of Terror, we were just about jumping for joy. We couldn't wait for the first chance to get in the van so we could start listening to the story. 

We received the two-CD set, plus were given access to the Live the Adventure Club website in order to access all the bonus material that comes along with it. I'll be talking more about the bonuses later; first, let's get into the story because I just can't wait to share it.

This two and a half hour story begins in a similar fashion as all the Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty adventures have, with Mr. George meeting up with someone with whom he is going to share his story. Mr. George is actually supposed to be G.A.Henty, the author of the book. In this adventure Mr. George meets up with a new character named Harry who lives here in America. They meet while looking at the graves in Arlington National Cemetery, and get into a discussion comparing the American War for Independence and the French Revolution. This comparison continues as he gets into his story, and we meet another young man named Harry Sandwith, the main character of this tale. 

Harry is 16, the same age of the other Harry that Mr. George is telling his story to. This is a common thread in all of these audio adventures, having the main character(s) be the same age and name as the person (or people) Mr. George meets up with. We first meet this Harry while he is with his father traveling by carriage to the sea. Harry is on his way to meet up with a packing boat so he can travel from England to France. Harry is interested in becoming a soldier because of stories he has heard of the heroes of the American War of Independence. Though his father, a doctor, would prefer for him to pursue a safer career in medicine, he respects Harry's decision to follow his dream. He is on his way to France to work for a marquis and his family, teaching the boys English, while hopefully gaining expertise for a military career. 

The problem is, it is not the best time to be traveling to France. There is a lot of unrest in the country as it is the time of the French Revolution. Fortunately, for a time, the unrest was more behind closed doors, though bad times were coming. A servant named Monsieur du Tillet provides a bit of comedy while taking Harry to the marquis's chateau. The children, okay fine, the entire family enjoyed the hilarious language bungles that Tillet made with his English in an attempt to make Harry not feel so bad when he messed up his French. Definitely not a major plot point, but a favorite part nonetheless.

We are then introduced to the Marquis de St. Caux and his two sons (Ernest and Jules), three daughters (Marie, Jeanne, and Virginie), and the Dowager Marquise de St. Caux, his mother. At first Harry has a hard time because as much as he would like to be a part of the family, the children can't overlook the fact that he is not of noble birth. It takes a life threatening event, in which Harry is the hero of the day, to change the children's thoughts toward Harry. After that he truly is like a member of the family. 

Sadly, these good times are not to last, as the san-culottes, or the commoners, are taking over, making new laws against the nobility and upper class. The marquis tries to fight along with others in defense of the king and queen, yet the king refused to take up arms against his country, and is eventually taken to prison. Slowly more and more of the nobility are also taken prisoner, until finally, the marquis and his family are in mortal danger. Harry escapes with the girls and is in charge of getting them safely out of the country. The brothers go off in another direction and sadly are captured quite quickly. The Marquis and the Dowager did not fight and were also taken into custody. 

It becomes a story with many dangerous twists and turns, quite suspenseful as we don't know for sure how many of the family, or their friends, are going to escape and how many will perish. In fact, even those who do eventually escape do not do so unscathed. During the second half of the story, there are many lives lost, as we discover the horror that was the French Revolution. 

As with all the previous Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty Audio Theater releases, I highly recommend this adventure. It is a great way to learn about what life was like during the French Revolution. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering what new twist is coming next. 

That said, I do want you to be aware that some of the content may be a bit too much for younger listeners. While there was more actual on-air violence in some of the other stories, especially the ones that focus on war, this one does have quite a bit of gruesome detail mentioned. Even though we don't actually hear all the deaths, there is a lot of it. And some of them can be very emotional, especially considering who is being killed. There is some detail mentioned about how some of the executions are carried out, though they take place "behind closed doors" so to speak. 

I really appreciate the lesson that is imparted in the story. As is mentioned at various times throughout the adventure, the horrors that happened during this period of time, were due to people turning away from God, instead of what happened in the American War of Independence, where the people were seeking God and his favor. Our American forefathers sought independence, as opposed to revenge and bloodshed. 

Now, let's take a look at the bonus material.

As in the past, we were given access to some wonderful bonus material to help us enjoy our adventure.  This time however, there is a brand new website called Live the Adventure Club which we were given access to. From my dashboard on this site I made my way to my "Adventure Library" where all of the audio adventures' bonus material can be found. However, we do only have access to the bonus material for In the Reign of Terror, which makes sense. All I had to do was click on "Bonus Content" to see all we had access to. From there I was able to download the Study Guide.

Also available in this section are the following:
  • In the Reign of Terror Adventure Playlist (listen to the adventure online)
  • In the Reign of Terror Original E-Book
  • Official Soundtrack
  • Printable Cast Poster
  • Inspirational Verse Poster
  • Desktop Wallpaper Download
  • Official Script Download
The Study Guide and Discussion Starter is a great resource to facilitate our learning.

It is organized in the same way the study guides have been for the past several releases. First it lists the Crew and Cast, and then their is an Introduction to the Study Guide. There is a short biographical section which focuses on a few people who are relevant to this story: G.A. Henty, Maximilien Robespierre, and Marie Antoinette. Each track of the adventure has one or two pages devoted to study questions. 

There are "Listening Well" questions and more in-depth "Thinking Further" questions. Additionally there is a list of "Defining Words" for each track. Included in the "Defining Words" section are both English vocabulary and French words. 

Interspersed throughout the study guide are "Expand Your Learning" boxes. You can find out more about such topics as 18th Century Architecture in Paris, Estates (or classes) of France, The Guillotine, and Health & Medicine During the French Revolution. There are also a couple of recipes shared: No-Knead French Bread and "Let Them Eat Cake" Simple Brioche Recipe. A few of the pages even have pictures depicting scenes from the track featured on that page. 

At the back of the Study Guide you will find a list of additional resources for the French Revolution, three Bible Studies, and the Historical Background for the story. 

We usually utilize the Study Guide after we have listened to the entire adventure at least once. During our rest time on a Sunday afternoon, I will put the CD in the DVD player while the children rest on the floor. After each track, I will pause the playback and ask the children the "Listening Well" questions. As the children are still young, we don't really dig into the "Thinking Further" questions. The children do a great job answering the questions. After a while, when I am convinced that the children are actually listening and understanding, I will allow them to listen without having to answer questions. I actually asked a lot more questions this time than I have when we listened to previous adventures. 

I also take time to Google some of the defining words and information in the "Expand Your Learning" boxes. The children were also interested in learning more about what a rabid dog would look like, as there is one in the story. I also asked if they could translate some of the French words. As Bastille Day came during the time of the review, we also looked up a bit about the Bastille. 

We don't go too in-depth with the Study Guide at this point, as they are still young. I use it more as a gauge to see how well they are listening to the story. I also enjoy reading the information for my own knowledge. I have to say, I have learned a lot more about the French Revolution than I ever knew. 

Now, remember I mentioned that these bonus resources are available on the new site called Live the Adventure Club? Well, I have spent some time perusing the site, and I am amazed at what is available there. In addition to these bonuses, there are Kid Activities where children can extend their learning and have fun. 

There is a section where you can listen to one track at a time, following along with the script if you would like, and when you are done, take a multiple choice quiz. 

Once all the quizzes have been taken, an Adventure badge and printable Award Certificate can be earned. 

Also available are coloring pages for all the audio adventures released so far, word searches (which can be completed online or printed), and other fun activities related to the stories, such as building a sugar cube pyramid and making a ship in a bottle. 

Additionally, there are resources for parents as well, such as reviews of popular movies with points that parents might want to know before allowing their children to see them, Live the Adventure Radio  podcast episodes on topics of interest for parents, articles on different topics for parents, and articles related to the importance of G.A. Henty's works being shared in today's world. There is also a Live the Adventure Club Community, a forum for parents to connect with one another. 

I have to say, I love the name of the new club website. When using the resources provided, you really do get more into these adventures, like you are living the adventure. I would highly recommend checking out this club site. They are currently offering an incredible deal too. You can sign up for a free (yes free) 3-month trial and receive the newest release, Captain Bayley's Heir, for just one dollar! Just click on over to the Live the Adventure Club.

The new club website is a wonderful feature. It really has enhanced our time with this Heirloom Audio Productions product. And, In the Reign of Terror is a thrilling addition to our G.A. Henty collection. If you would like to see what we thought of the previous releases, I invite you to check out my other Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews.

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Don't forget to click on the banner below to check out the reviews of my fellow Crew Mates. 

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
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