Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review of Heirloom Audio Productions' In Freedom's Cause

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review

If you read my blog at all, you know that I am seriously addicted to all things spoken audio: audiobooks, podcasts, old time radio shows - you name it: if it is spoken audio, I'm all over it. Imagine my delight, then, when two of my favorite spoken audio genres (audiobook and radio drama) married in Heirloom Audio Productions' In Freedom's Cause Single Package production of G.A. Henty's classic book.

You have probably heard of G.A. Henty's books, even if you don't quite realize it. Show me one homeschool curriculum that *doesn't* have The Cat of Babastes on (in) it, and I'll point out to you that the curriculum is likely not classical, Charlotte Mason, relating to Egypt (obviously), or very good (sorry - was that judgmental?). Simply put, G.A. Henty tells a great story! His books are historically accurate (N.B., as a Catholic, I have problems with some of his books as they relate to interpretations of the Reformation, but the vast majority of his books, well, don't), easy to read (while presenting kids with a great vocabulary), and always exciting. Know what's even more exciting, though? Hearing the books brought to life with a full-cast audio!

Before getting into how awesome this product is, let me first tell you everything you get in this unique package (all of which is included in the $29.97 + s/h price)!
1. The 2-CD set of the audio drama + instant access MP3 download

2. The complete eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter (more on this in a minute)

3. A printable copy of The Prayer of William Wallace (that would be the 23rd Psalm in the Latin Vulgate. If you have not read this psalm in anything other than the KJV, you might be surprised at how different and majestic it is when translated faithfully from the Latin. I love that this printable poster is included in the download package. But, then, as a Catholic and as a lover of Latin, any time I see the Vulgate referenced I get a thrill of pleasure.).

4. The MP3 download of the soundtrack to the audio. The music for the audio drama was composed by the Emmy-winning composer John Campbell, who also composed the score for The Chronicles of Narnia! Having the soundtrack is a huge value-add for the set!

My review continues below, but first, watch the trailer - I dare you not to buy this audio drama after watching it! I was blessed enough to receive it for review, but watching the trailer makes me want to go and buy it! I am telling you - this is such an exciting way to share books with children! Your kids are going to love it. Just listening to the trailer as I write the review, my kids are asking when we can listen to it again.


There are as many different ways to enjoy In Freedom's Cause as there are homeschool (and all) families. Obviously, you can just listen to and love it. It's a great story. You can also incorporate it into your study of Scotland, England, this particular time in history, or William Wallace. If you want to use it in a more directed way, the included study guide is a great way to do so. 

Structured like many study guides, each section of the guide covers between 4-10 minutes of audio and includes three sections: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. There are 37 such sections altogether. The study guide also includes a brief section on the history of Scotland in order to bring parents up to speed, just in case you may not know what brought William Wallace to his present views. Finally, it concludes with three brief Bible studies. 

The study guide is *gorgeous*. I include one small screenshot here so that you can see what I am talking about. Like all other things associated with this product, the study guide is a work of art. It looks like it is printed on aged paper, and it includes maps and sumptuous artwork. My kids and I loved looking through it the second we got it. The study guide demands that you delve into it, unlike so many study guides that repel students (simply by virtue of the fact that they look like so much work). The only downside to the gorgeous study guide is that it is just too much color to print. Still, one doesn't have to print it to use it. It is just as easy to write the answers to the questions on your own paper, or to answer them orally.

All four of my kids loved In Freedom's Cause as much as I did. First of all, it is very hard to resist a Scottish accent, and the accents in this drama are completely authentic (didn't you watch the trailer!?). Second, the music is awesome. It sweeps you away. The production value of the CD is so amazing that if you close your eyes, you would be convinced that there is a movie on a screen in front of you...but then you open your eyes and you're glad there's not, because what your own imagination can conjure is likely much better!

The first time we listened to the CD, we did so piecemeal in the car. It wasn't ideal, and it wasn't the kids preference. That didn't diminish their love for the story, though. In a couple of weeks we have a road trip, however, and they are really looking forward to being able to listen again straight through. So am I!

A Note to Catholic Families

One thing that often seems to get overlooked about William Wallace is his Catholicism. Yes, Henty talks about Wallace as a Christian, but any Christian in 13th/14th century Scotland (or anywhere!) was a Catholic. Wallace was educated by Augustinians and Benedictines and spoke Latin, the language of the Church. Events in his life caused him to fall away from his faith for a time, but he died reciting the penitential psalms (the study guide *does* point this out in its introduction about Wallace - something I really appreciated!) - something we as Catholics still do when we go to Confession. There are many different ways to expand your study of William Wallace and his Catholic faith by using this book and study as a jumping off point. For example, there is a movement among some Scottish Catholics to have William Wallace canonized. This would be a great opportunity to discuss with your children the canonization process - what is required and whether Wallace's life meets those qualifications. Also, because the package includes the 23rd psalm in the Vulgate translation, it's a great opportunity to discuss different translations of the Bible, including the differences between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles (vis-a-vis what Protestants typically refer to as the Apocrypha). 

If you're already in love with In Freedom's Cause, you'll welcome the news that Heirloom Productions is working on two new productions! The first one, With Lee in Virginia, is coming around Memorial Day!

To find In Freedom's Cause on social media, be sure to check out all of the following places:


In Freedom's Cause Review

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