In my family we read a lot of books and when we can not read books we listen to audio books. We spend quite a lot of time driving to a wide variety of classes (with three kids it’s unavoidable), so we are always on a look for a good “read” in the car. Recently, we were offered an opportunity to review Beric the Briton, an audio drama, from Heirloom Audio Productions. Since I heard about this company many times in the past, I eagerly accepted the chance to review it. Along with the 2-CD Audio set we received Beric the Briton novel in a e-book format, a 50-page Study guide, MP3 download, MP3 soundtrack with all the original music by the Emmy winning composer John Campbell, two printable posters and some other free digital bonuses.
Beric the Briton by G. A. Henty
Beric the Briton: the story of Roman Invasion is a historical fiction published in 1893 by a prolific nineteenth century author G. A. Henty (1832-1902). Henty was a journalist and war correspondent with a passion for history. His first hand experience with military conflicts, natural storytelling talent, and historical savvy earned him the title “the prince of storytellers.” He is often considered one of the best historical adventure writers. He went on to write 144 books with 25 million copies of his novels published worldwide.
This particular story tells us about Roman Empire at the time of Emperor Nero. Beric, a young Briton chieftain is captured during the rebellion and is taken to Rome. Through his eyes we learn a lot about Romans, the gladiator fights, the burning of Rome, and Emperor Nero’s life, palace and court.
What is Heirloom Audio Productions
The mission of Heirloom Audio Productions is to engage listener’s imagination by immersing them in the story. They are dedicated to bringing real history to life and they go a long way to provide quality. They begin each production by visiting the actual sites of the events to capture the essence of the story. The sound design engineer might note different levels of squeak in the Abbey door hinge and record it for future consideration. The team is huge. Some of the people involved in the production are writer, executive producer, sound producer, sound design engineer, accent coach, recording engineer and the cast of 18 actors (with a different voice for each character). Most noteworthy, the cast consists of no ordinary actors but movie stars who have to their credits Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Downton Abbey, Indiana Jones, Braveheart and more.
How we used this product
We listened to the story in the car when we didn’t have our 3-year old with us because he didn’t like the sound effects and the battle scenes.
What we thought
The only problem with Beric the Briton is to stop listening to it. More than once we would drive up to our destination in a car and pause to “listen for just one more minute” and end up being late because one more minute is just never enough.
It’s a remarkable production and it really draws listeners into the story. The characters are represented really well and it’s easy to root for them. They are brave, steadfast and wise. We liked the sound effects and the original Beric the Briton score by an Emmy Award winning composer John Campbell.
Even though Beric the Briton is recommended for ages 6 and up, I don’t think very young kids are not good candidates for this story. There is the unfamiliar Old English to deal with and some of the sound effects, like cries of distress or fear were a bit too much for young kids, in my opinion. I think ideally this story is best for kids 12 and up.
The story is historically accurately, and thus violent. It’s a mix of Braveheart and Gladiator. But thankfully the violence is never described in detail. If you have younger kids who are used to listening to audio dramas they might be ok with the intensity of emotions and vividness of some scenes.
The fun doesn’t stop when you finish the story as the audio drama comes with a lot of extras. Teacher’s guide is amazing! There you will find information about the historical background, characters in the story and about the author, ancient Roman recipes that children can make (Children’s Roman Noodle Bake!!!) and links to exciting enrichment activities (like taking a virtual tour of ancient Rome). For each track of the CDs there are very thoughtful comprehension questions, vocabulary list, and thinking further questions that stimulate discussion. “Beric argues that military discipline is more important than bravery or mere numbers. Why does he think this? Do you agree? Why or why not?”
I found that while the antique paper background made it difficult to print the study guide as is, just copying and pasting text into google doc made it easy and didn’t take that long.
Some historical dramas available from Heirloom Audio Productions:
The Dragon and the Raven
With Lee in Virginia
In Freedom’s Cause
Under Drake’s Flag
And recent addition Beric the Briton
If you want to learn more about Heirloom Audio Productions visit their website and social media.
Beric The Briton FB Page – https://www.facebook.com/BericTheBriton
The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series FB page – https://www.facebook.com/TheExtraordinaryAdventuresOfGAHenty
Beric The Briton FB Page https://www.facebook.com/BericTheBriton
Other Schoolhouse Crew Team Members reviewed this product too. You can read their reviews by clicking the image above.