Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Freedom's Cause The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce Audio Theater CD Review

My family and I love audio books! We love to listen to them while: I am multitasking, we have a long drive ahead of us, or there is cruddy weather and we are stuck inside. My family usually enjoys them better if they are fun and adventuresome. I believe they are better than movies because more imagination is required and lots of imagination is great for growing minds.

I love it when a story pulls you in and holds you till the very end. This is what In Freedom's Cause from Heirloom Audio Productions does. This audio production and theatrical radio drama consists of 2 and a half hours of masterful storytelling on 2 CDs recommended for ages 6-adult. I cannot say enough good things about this. Really, the presentation is very extraordinary! It brings the history to life.

This audio theater is about the epic true story of William Wallace and how he changed Scotland's history forever with his faith in God and vision for freedom with Robert the Bruce. The audio version is upbeat and engaging with themes of faith, courage, freedom, strength, perseverance, virtue, valor, determination, adventure, and heroism. You might have seen the movie Braveheart which spins a slightly different tale on William Wallace. The story is similar, but the retelling by radio theatre In Freedom's Cause is apparently more accurate. Both Braveheart and this audio theater version are based on the book by the same name as this audio program. G.A. Henty authored many historical fiction novels in the late 1800's and early 1900's, including In Freedom's Cause in 1885. The CDs follow the book by G.A. Henty fairly closely although the main protagonist is named Archie in the book and Ned in the audio adventure. There are some other changes as well, but I don't want to spoil it for you.

inside the case to In Freedom's Cause audio theater

I had some definite favorite parts of the audio drama. I loved the girl up in the tree and the goat woo part. They both made me and my family laugh. I loved how William Wallace carried around a Celtic Knot and his Psalter (Bible) and how the symbolism of these two were woven seamlessly into the story. The way William was anchored in his faith in God was awesome! I also loved that Lady Marjory was a great female character, so headstrong and brave...she reminded me of Merida in Disney's animated movie Brave. They even said she had red hair.

Along with the 2 CD audio theater set I also received many other awesome package bonus downloads. The 2 CD set also has a list of the cast on the back of the case, a pamphlet insert that has the link to the study guide and a bit about Heirloom Audio as well as some notes on the more famous of the cast, and in the center under where the pamphlet goes is The Prayer of William Wallace which is from the sacred song for King David, Psalm 23. This prayer also comes as a digital download so you can print it out as a poster to put on your wall.

In Freedom's Cause Single Package (what I am mentioning in this review) includes:
  • In Freedom's Cause (CD Set - Physical Copy + MP3 Download Version)
  • In Freedom's Cause Study Guide (Digital Download)
  • In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack (MP3 Download)
  • Printable copy of The Prayer Of William Wallace (Digital Download)
  • Cast of Characters Roadmap (Digital Download)
I want to also mention that Heirloom Audio was being generous to the Schoolhouse Review Crew that received this for review. We received additional bonuses other than that were supposed to be in the Single Package. The additional items may only be available if you buy the 4-pack.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew that received this for review received all of the above and these additional bonuses:
  • In Freedom's Cause eBook (Digital Download)
  • In Freedom's Cause Cast Poster (Digital Download)
  • Membership Website Access (Link)
  • Behind the Scenes Documentary (Online Showing)
I love the music and sound effects that accompany this program. The music that is used on the CDs is very lovely and is also by itself in soundtrack form as MP3 downloads. It is the original score by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell. This has some beautiful Scottish elements that I love. The sound effects make you feel like you are right there with the characters and immerses you more into what's happening.

The all-star cast in this audio book is expansive and amazing. Some of the cast consists of Joanne Froggatt as Lady Marjory (Anna in Downton Abbey), Billy Boyd as Sir John Comyn (Peregrin "Pippin" in Lord of the Rings), Skandar Keynes as Sir Allan Kerr (Edmund Pevensie in Chronicles of Narnia), Cathy Sara as Dame Forbes (Woman In Black, Topsy-Turvy), and James Cosmo as Sir Robert Gordon (Highlander, Braveheart). I also recognized the boisterous voice of Brian Blessed as G.A. Henty in this production. All of the cast's performances are wonderful and as a bonus you get a downloadable Cast of Characters Roadmap which has some background and an introduction on each of the In Freedom's Cause characters. This will help you distinguish between characters better because there are 4 different Johns you have to keep straight along with other characters that might be hard to follow. The character building is so wonderful as long as you can keep up.

There is also a study guide that has discussion points and questions to ask your children as they listen to the program. This is wonderful to use as part of a history curriculum while homeschooling. It is really easier to listen to the whole program before you do the study guide and then listen again a second time to do the study guide, in my opinion. It feels awkward to stop and start the program so many times (every 4 to 10 minutes) during play. The CDs don't have the places to stop at marked well either unless you know where the narrative takes a new turn. Each set of questions has three parts, Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. There are questions in the Listening Well section which are to see if you and your child are really paying attention. There are questions in the Thinking Further section that helps you understand deeper and get you and your child thinking more. The Defining Words section is a list of words that will enhance the vocabulary of your child and places more meaning for the story. Having a dictionary handy might be appropriate because the definitions are not already spelled out. At the end of the study guide is a brief history of Scotland. These notes will further understanding of what is going on and why Scotland was under England's rule. It might be best to read this first to comprehend greater. The very end of the study guide is a Bible study to go along with the study and a bibliography to delve even deeper. My children learned and understood so much more with this study guide. We used the questions and Bible study section throughout it and it made for a very lengthy, but interesting discussion session with my older kids. I am very glad that it was included. I love the scriptures it had you look up and ponder too. I do wish, however, that there was a answer guide as well to the questions, because it would make the whole thing flow better in my opinion.

We all thoroughly enjoyed In Freedom's Cause and will probably listen to it many more times. I doubt this audio book will ever get old. I also loved all the bonus extras we received and will be going through them also in more detail.

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