Like previous Heirloom Audio Productions dramas, The Dragon and the Raven is a top quality production, featuring vivid sound effects and well-known actors. It tells the story of a young man fighting to defend his homeland against the Danes, who are tough, ruthless warriors that destroy and capture everything in their paths. The listener becomes acquainted with King Alfred of Wessex, bravely fights battles, witnesses the difference in worldviews between the Christian England and the pagan Scandinavia, and experiences the power of forgiveness offered to one’s enemies as he is drawn into the story.
Listening to audio dramas is a bit of a different experience. In today’s world, we are accustomed to experiencing stories through sight—either reading or through television, computers, and other media. Listening to an audio drama takes more focus and imagination, which is beneficial for developing concentration and listening skills. With the multiple voices and sound effects telling the story, and less actual narration, it’s even a different experience than listening to an audio book.
This drama might be my favorite yet (of the three that I’ve heard). We put the cd’s in the car and listened to them as we drove around town to our various activities. Emily and I both enjoyed the story and the presentation of it. Because of the speakers’ British accents, the numerous characters with unfamiliar names, and the telling of the story primarily through dialogue, I think it might be difficult for younger elementary aged children to follow. As it was (probably because of road noise, since we listened in the car), we occasionally missed part of the action and had to ask each other, “What just happened?” We did enjoy the story and the Christian-themed message throughout, though.
There is an accompanying PDF study guide for The Dragon and the Raven that includes comprehension questions, “thinking further” questions, and definitions for each audio segment. These would be very helpful for families who wanted to make the drama into a unit or “literature” study and would help younger children follow the story more easily. What I enjoyed even more in the study guide, though was the background information about Alfred the Great. As this story illustrates, he was successful in defending his country against the invasion of the Danes and making peace with the nation. He was also instrumental in promoting literacy in England by insisting that the nobles learn to read and by translating the Bible from Latin into Anglo-Saxon. He also rewrote laws for his country, incorporating the Ten Commandments and moral law into the law of the land. The study guide also includes three short Bible studies that reinforce the themes of the story (God’s law, loving your enemy, and literacy).
I appreciate that Heirloom Audio Productions makes this study guide available. As a homeschooler, I love to use exciting stories instead of textbooks whenever possible, and the study guide fleshes out the story even more. We will be looking forward to more audio dramas from Heirloom Audio in the future!