We received the two CD set. There are options to purchase MP3s for your own family, or multiple CD sets; so if you have friends or school groups who also love Heirloom Audio, you can buy them together. You can also subscribe to the Live the Adventure Club and have streaming access or MP3s there. We ripped the CDs so my children could listen to them as MP3s on their tablets and music players. Some of the kids would take the CD set and listen to it while doing chores or cleaning jobs, and others just used their tablets and earbuds.
This story is one of the most well known feuds in history. Heirloom Audio does a great job of turning it into an exciting way to learn history. Though I do admit that understanding all of the people and situations involved in this bit of history is not my strong suit. I realized how much I appreciate the Study Guide that Heirloom Audio releases, and I turned to history books and the internet for help understanding this story since I did not have access to the Study Guide for this review. (Join the Live the Adventure Club to have access once the Study Guide and other extras once they are released!) Anyway, I feel like listening to this CD set and studying to understand it better has helped me and my children learn more about this part of history. Using stories like this one is especially helpful for auditory learners, like my son, who helped me figure a large portion of the story line out!
This adventure is FULL of battles, a beheading, and a self inflicted amputation, which made it difficult for me to follow and careful about the age and comprehension of the children who hear it.
The Theme:Edith gives up her life with Harold for what is best for the country - Harold's marriage to Ealdgyth. They hope this will prevent the country from being split in two. The main theme of the story is "fortunate are the few who marry for love."
The story:I love reading historical fiction, but am always confused when the ranks of English nobility are brought up. This story began with Mr. George explaining the ranks of king, duke, earl, and thane to two young French boys so they could easily understand. Mr. George goes on to tell the boys the story portrayed on the Bayeux Tapestry and the Battle of Hastings.
The historical portion of the story starts with Wulf, a 16 year old Saxon page to earl Harold, arguing with the Norman bishop and his page. He gets sent away to the estate that he will manage when he becomes an thane. Wulf and his friend Osgod become good fighters in their time away, and soon travel with Harold on a hunting trip. Their ship crashes and they are captured in Normandy. Their captor, Count Conrad, is not friendly and Wulf and friend Beorn escape in an attempt to find Duke William and ask for the men to be released. He and Baron de Berg do, but the duke tricks Harold into taking an oath on sacred relics before they return to England.
|Listening to the story|
Wulf helps Harold prepare to fight the invading Welsh. Wulf and his band end up capturing the castle of Llewellyn ap Rhys. Soon Harold tells Wulf of problems with his brother Tostig, the Danish, and the Norse. With King Edward ill, Harold has been placed in command. Harold Godwinson and the northern earls' families - Edwin of Mercia and his brother Morcar of Northumbria, both of the house of Leofric - have long been at odds with each other. These brothers have started a rebellion. Harold's wife, Edith, realizes the only way to prevent a war with the North is for her to give up her husband and for him to marry the northern earls' sister, Ealdgyth, and make her queen of England when Harold is crowned king.
When King Edward dies, Harold is named king and coronated as successor. Duke William of Normandy summons Harold to fulfill his oath to marry one of his daughters. Wulf and some men head to Normandy with a message of refusal, tell him that his oath was invalid, and that as king, Harold will follow the will of his people to keep the royal blood English. William is not pleased! Wulf and Osgod are determined to protect the king, and prevent an assassination attempt soon after Harold marries Ealdgyth. News of the breach of the oath between Harold and William is exploited, and King Harold is excommunicated.
The fighting soon begins again; the Norman barons have been coerced to join William. Harold's brother, Tostig, and Harold Hadrada of Norway are preparing to invade England. Wulf and King Harold's new brothers-in-law lead a battle against the Norse, who are victorious. Wulf leaves to tell Harold of the coming army, and learns the brothers have joined the Norse king. Wulf meets with the Norse king's spokesman, Tostig. He asks Tostig to return and claim his earldom in Northumberland, and sends a message to King Harold of Norway that he will receive seven feet of English ground. Of course this threat is met with battle, but England prevails and the King of Norway and Tostig die while the Norse flee and surrender. Don't forget about the Normans though, because they are already on the way and preparing for battle. The great Battle of Hastings takes place, during which King Harold is killed and Wulf is taken prisoner to Normandy. Luckily Wulf is able to go with a friend - Baron de Burg. There are so many bodies from the battle that no one can identify King Harold's, except his first wife, Edith.
We all know how it ends - William the Conqueror was crowned king. A nice addition to the story is that Wulf asks the Baron and his wife if he can marry their daughter Agnes, who he has been friends with since they first met (though until then Wulf has been more dedicated to fighting battles than to seeking a wife!) Wulf and Agnes are fortunate, they did marry for love!
Our thoughts:This story is harder to understand. There is a lot that happens, and some of the voices sound similar. It was more difficult for my two younger children to follow. But the older kids did a little better, and after I gave them my LONG explanation of the story (the short version is what you read above!), it made more sense to everyone.
During this review, we all listened to it together. Then we listened to it on our own time. I listened alone twice and took notes and studied. Then I sat down with the kids and asked what happened, what was their favorite part, and what they learned. We were able to help each other understand better, think about themes, and fill in the blanks of parts we didn't understand. I think everyone understood more of the story the next time we listened to it because we helped each other figure it out. This is how we study books, and it just made sense to apply that to an audio drama too.
M (9th grade) said this about the story - "My favorite part was when they attacked the castle and took control of it. Wulf could have attacked all the women and children at the castle like the Welsh had at the Saxon's homes, but he didn't; he respected them even though they were prisoners, and didn't let his men hurt them either."
J (7th grade) added this - "I don't know if there is a moral to it, it's just the story of the Battle of Hastings. It does talk about marrying for love though." He really liked all of the battles and how Wulf practiced to be a good fighter.
The first time we listened to this CD set M said, "Mom! I think I've heard this story before!" I reminded her that it was brand new, but when the previous set (Captain Bayley's Heir) came out, she had figured out the clue at the end of that story and quickly found and read G.A. Henty's book titled Wulf the Saxon so she would be familiar with the story. She remembered doing that! Even though the version from Heirloom Audio Productions is not an audio book, it's close enough that you'll still know the story, and for some children this version is even more exciting!
And speaking of clues at the end... we're not going to tell you what the next story will be! You'll have to listen to Wulf the Saxon and find out for yourself. We've already got it on our Kindles so we can read it and prepare. Enjoy!