Earlier this summer, we received an audio adventure to review from Heirloom Audio Productions; their newest drama, Beric the Briton. Are you interested in the ancient Romans? in the Coliseum? in battles to the death with lions?
If you can answer “yes” to any of those questions, then this new audio drama might be right up your alley!
What is Heirloom Audio Productions?
Heirloom Audio Productions is engaged in bringing the incredible truths of history to life for today’s audiences in audio format. To do this, they find engaging stories that tell the facts of real (and sometimes fictional) heroes and heroines. The novels of “living books” author G.A. Henty have been the perfect vehicle to tell these stories! These audio dramas are voiced by world-class actors and accompanied by stirring musical scores. Heirloom Audio has brought audiences the stories of Alfred the Great (The Dragon and the Raven), Robert E. Lee (With Lee in Virginia), Robert the Bruce (In Freedom’s Cause), and Sir Francis Drake (Under Drake’s Flag). The newest Heirloom Audio adventure features the events of early Britannia, the Roman invasions, and gladiators in Beric the Briton.
Beric the Briton was originally a novel by G.A. Henty, the 19th-century author of almost 100 well-researched historical fiction books. Henty selected and studied specific eras and produced vivid and inspiring books about them. Beric the Briton is the story of Beric, the leader of a tribe of Britannia. He has spent time in Rome and has learned their ways of warfare, and noted the enormous differences between the ways the Romans and his own island tribes fought, and is determined to teach those winning ways to his people. However, when war does come between the two groups, Rome (as she often did) emerged as the victor, and Beric is carried off to Rome, which is under the control of Emperor Nero. The reader (or listener, here!) will experience the fire of Rome, the persecution of Christians, “bread and circuses.” And Beric will hear of Christus, who couldn’t be more different than the Druids followed by his own tribe. He’ll have to make a decision; will he follow the ways of his past, or the God-man, Christus?
Heirloom Audio Productions brings Beric the Briton to vivid life with an incredible cast of talented actors, which includes Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame, Honeysuckle Weeks from Foyle’s War, Brian Blessed (Star Wars), John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings), and more. This production is recorded on 2 CDs, and the story runs two and a half hours. The company recommends Beric the Briton for audiences aged 6 to adult.
When you purchase Beric the Briton, you don’t just receive an audio adventure! Heirloom Audio Productions has created an enormous collection of extras which are perfect for families, classes, and homeschoolers. We received the following special bonuses along with the audio CD in physical format:
- An mp3 set of Beric the Briton
- Beric the Briton in e-book format
- The Official Soundtrack of Beric the Briton in mp3 format
- a printable cast movie poster
- an inspirational poster with a quote from the story’s character, Julius
- a Live the Adventure letter
- a “Behind the Scenes” video documentary with the cast and crew
- a fantastic Beric the Briton Study Guide which includes not only questions for each chapter, but related Bible studies as well
The Study Guide and the inspirational posters, in particular, were favorites of our family. The poster is just gorgeous and the quote is truly faith-building. The Study Guide is so complete that it could form the basis of a unit study on Rome or Britannia, or even an addition to a survey of the Christian church. Really, all of these bonus products thoroughly enrich the audio experience, and are fascinating learning experiences. Not to mention wonderful keepsakes!
We took a vacation during the month that we received Beric the Briton and had to drive about 7 1/2 hours going and returning. So I happily took the CD set with us; on that trip there are some long stretches of nothing but highway. So I knew that it would come in handy. We weren’t really familiar with the story before we listened to it, although I had a general idea of what that historical era covered.
There are some incredible and heroic–even inspiring–people who lived during this era, and we met many of them as we listened. Boadicea, for example; one of the great female warriors who led the Britannic tribe Iceni, is presented here. There are also Festus and Paulus (do those names sound familiar?). However, there are also wicked and evil characters like the Emperor Nero (who thinks much more highly of himself than his actions would suggest) or the Romans who attack Boadicea and her daughters (not to mention the tribes of Britannia themselves). The actual events of this era provide a vivid storyline for Beric and his adventures. The trials of early Christians are part of the story, especially of Beric’s time in Rome.
And what did we think? First, that Heirloom Audio has created another incredibly high-quality production from an exciting book. Second, the audio acting is excellent as always (as one would expect with such an incredible cast!). Third, it’s a fabulous addition to studies about the Roman Empire, as the listener not only learns about what it was like to live in Rome but what it could have been like to be one of Rome’s conquered peoples.
I do have to admit that our family was a bit squeamish about some of the subject matter. Have you read a lot about the Druids or their practices? That in particular is not for the faint of heart, honestly, although Henty’s story deals with that and Boadicea’s and her daughters’ attack very circumspectly. However, I thought that the geography taught via the story, and the experiences of both the gladiators of Rome and the early Christians were fascinating and great ways to learn about the past.
While we’re always impressed with the Heirloom Audio presentations, we do find that we have to do a lot of turning the audio up and down as we listen. This has happened in both our home and in the car, so I don’t think it’s an issue with our audio systems. It does make listening a somewhat distracting experience, when we can’t focus on the story but have to keep adjusting the volume.
However, I really don’t think that you can find anyone out there who is producing anything like Heirloom Audio Productions does. They select stories that are exciting yet honorable, that teach great character while they teach history. So for incredible listening experiences that also speak deeply to the heart, mind, and spirit—you won’t have to look any further than Heirloom Audio!
You can also visit Heirloom Audio Productions and learn more about Beric the Briton at these social media links:
Beric The Briton Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BericTheBriton
The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheExtraordinaryAdventuresOfGAHenty