Among all the reviews my children and I have done through the years, Heirloom Audio Productions CD's have been a favorite! So, my children were thrilled to receive In the Reign of Terror, an exciting G.A. Henty story adapted into an audio drama.
I asked my oldest child, whose 11, to tell you about this exciting - and emotional - story. He dictated:
In the Reign of Terror is an action-packed story about an English boy who goes to France during the time of the French Revolution to study for a military career, learn French, and teach French boys and his family about the ways - and the language - of the English.
When the boy arrives, he is treated well, but almost like he's the French family's pet. He is cared for, but their attitude towards him is not one of true human love and acceptance. This changes after a few dramatic experiences that I cannot tell you about or I'll ruin the story for you.
During the boy's stay in France, the Revolution starts going crazy -- mobs begin to kill people and burn houses... Pro-revolutionary laws are enforced, and chaos breaks out.
The boy and the French Marqui's family try to live through the terror, and, then, to escape it. That's when the story gets super exciting... and sad.
As you listen, you'll feel anger at certain people, sorrow for hundreds of people, and respect for the main character and some others. You will also learn about the French Revolution and the American War for Independence.
I would recommend this audiodrama to those who don't mind death and want to learn a lot about history with an exciting story!
You can learn more about the storyline and get a taste of the quality of the production by watching this trailer:
As you can guess from watching the video above, In the Reign of Terror has all of the trademarks of an Heirloom Audio Productions radio drama that my family has come to love:
- a top-notch cast
- a moving original score
- an exciting tale laced with humor and strong emotion
- likable characters portrayed with depth
- a faith-centered message
Indeed, In the Reign of Terror, like other Heirloom Audio Productions, immediately draws you in and, sweeps you away for 2 1/2 hours of historical drama. Unfortunately, the time period it carries you away to is a volatile one with much darkness.
Fortunately, light shines in the darkness: a ray of faithful hope!
Heirloom Audio Productions creates fantastic audiodramas for family entertainment and learning, however, each of the G.A. Henty adaptations contain intense moments, so audios should only be listened to by younger or more sensitive children after parents have previewed the CD's. This is particularly true of the In the Reign of Terror story.
Without question, the French Revolution was a grim time in history, and In the Reign of Terror reflects that. Violence, fires, even brutal executions all occur in the story. In fact, many of the characters that you come to know and like at the start of the tale end up dying brutal yet, thankfully, "of-screen") deaths further along. Plus, hundreds of less familiar characters also die. Thus, young children - and sensitive ones - may not be the best audience for this particular audiodrama.
My middle child - a sensitive 10-yeara-old - referred to this when I asked for her opinions for this review by saying:
This story is not good for little kids. It is better for children 12 and over, because it has a lot of death.
I liked the beginning with the funny parts, but I did not like all the death.
Obviously, although my daughter has listened to this audiodrama, she did not relish it as much as she has past productions. She found the horrors of the French Revolution - even if dealt with tastefully in this production - just a bit too upsetting to allow her to enjoy this CD as much as she has past Heirloom Audio Productions.
My oldest child - a typically less sensitive 11-year-old - was also affected by the darkness of the storyline. He said:
I love Heirloom Audio Productions and this one is good, but it is not my favorite. I prefer the ones with a main character and a secondary character such as the Dragon and the Raven and In Freedom's Cause. This one is more intense, because kids are dying instead of adults and many people die in horrible ways.
I still learned a lot and liked the CD's though.
Oddly, my youngest - at seven - was not as bothered by the deaths described in this audiodrama, although he commented on them, too. This, admittedly, concerned me at first as I wondered if my youngest is becoming sadly desensitized to violence. My concern was short-lived, though, as I realized that my youngest simply keys into the humor, excitement, and drama of In the Reign of Terror more than the heartbreaking realities of lost lives during the French Revolution.
He had this to say:
When this audiodrama first started, I thought it was going to be about the American Revolution, with some of it in France and some in America. I'd really like to hear one about the American Revolution... and I like the ones with swords, axes, helmets, shields, and chest plates. I liked this one, too, but not as much as In Freedom's Cause, Under Drake's Flag, and With Lee in Virginia.
What I liked about this one was the humor. The boy thought the French would have frogs and stuff to eat, but they had bread. Also, when the guy said, "You are a great stupid," it was funny. He meant, "You are a great student." It was funny when the one who was bad at French and the one who was not so good at English were speaking.
Also, I liked the exciting parts like when the mob seized a guy, when there was a wolf hunt, and when a ship went out to deep water...
I especially liked that there was only a tiny bit of romance.
I would not recommend this to people who are sensitive to death.
More than Just an Audiodrama
Heirloom Audio Productions has always offered bonuses to go along with their audio CD's. Such bonuses typically include printable quotes, study guides, official soundtracks, and - my children's favorite - behind-the-scenes peaks at the making of the CD's.
Now, Heirloom Audio Productions has packaged such bonuses with even more content to create the online Live the Adventure Club.
As a member of the club, you can gain access to:
- a streaming version of In the Reign of Terror
- an In The Reign Of Terror Original E-Book
- an Official Soundtrack
- a Printable Cast Poster
- a Study Guide & Discussion Starter (downloadable and accessible online)
- an Inspirational Verse Poster
- a Desktop Wallpaper Download
- an Official Script Download
You can also find parent helps, online quizzes for kids, an “Old Time Radio Vault” (full of old radio plays), and more.
These features are fabulous and my children enjoyed browsing some and getting 100% into others - like the online quizzes which mirror to a degree portions of the printable Study Guide. They each, however, echoed the same sentiment after clicking around on the Live the Adventure Club pages for a while:
Please make behind-the-scenes videos we can see again!
Being able to hear and see interviews with the producers and actors involved with the production is definitely something my children missed.
One thing they did not miss was casual use of the Study Guide. Once again, Heirloom Audio Productions has made a complete Study Guide available for online viewing or download. The 43-page guide includes:
- short biographies of key historical figures
- Expand Your Learning sections
- a char comparing the American War for Independence and the French Revolution
- Listening Well Questions
- Thinking Further Questions
- Defining Words Sections
- a list for further reading
- 3 Bible studies
These can all be used for formal studies or can simply be used - as my family uses them - as an informal guide for conversation. Used formally or informally, the study guide can help children can find opportunities to see how well they are listening and learning and to think and go deeper, too. It is a truly helpful resource (which I feel would be even better if offered in a simple black-and-white format as well as in the eye-catching one it is already offered in. That way, those that wish to print out the guide could do so without using so much ink.)
Some Final Thoughts
Between the In the Reign of Terror CD-set, which comes nicely packaged with two CD's, and the Live the Adventure Club, which is chock full of helpful bonus material, Heirloom Audio Productions has done it again. They have created an on-the-edge-of-your-seat audiodrama that keeps you engaged and extras to keep your education expanding. I know I came to a better understanding of what the French Revolution was like when I was listening to the CD's, and I am confident that my children did, too. I also witnessed them enjoying the online club. In the Reign of Terror, although not in our top three of Heirloom Audio Productions produced so far is still a CD-set we are glad to own. We have each learned new things and enjoyed parts - if no all - of the tale.
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One-hundred families reviewed In the Reign of Terror. Read each families thoughts:
You may also enjoy our prior reviews of Heirloom Audio Productions which can be found by clicking through each image below: