As always, G.A. Henty and Jim Hodges have come through for this homeschool mom! If you are looking for a reliable and accurate resource to teach a certain period of history, you will not go wrong with a novel written by the "The Boy’s Own Historian!" The audios of Henty’s books done by Jim Hodges are par excellence! The combination of great writing plus spellbinding narration creates the perfect product for bringing history to life!
Beric the Briton is set in 61 A.D. and covers the Roman invasion of Britain. This particular story chronicles the life of Beric, a boy-chief of the British Iceni tribe, who was initially taken as a Roman hostage at the age of eleven. Although he admires and learns many of the Roman ways, the value of education, laws of government, etc. he still remains loyal to the Britons. When Beric is released to return to his home several years later, he falls “back upon the customs of his people as thoroughly as if he had never dwelt in the stately Roman town.”
Beric rises into a leadership position and joins the futile insurrection against the Romans led by Queen Boadicea in A.D. 62. Eventually Beric and several of his men are captured and sent to Rome. And as was true with many Roman prisoners, Beric was trained in the school of the gladiators. In God’s great providence, Beric saves the life of a young Christian girl by defeating a lion that is set upon her in the coliseum. Not only does he save a life...he achieves great fame and honor. As a reward, Beric becomes librarian to the infamously cruel Emperor Nero. Truly, he has one adventure after another during his time in Rome!
Finally Beric is able to escape, band with a group of outlaws into the mountains of Calabria, and continue warfare against the Romans. Not surprisingly, he returns to Britain after Nero dies. But he also becomes a Christian and marries a Roman girl! In the end, Beric is approved by the Romans to assume the role as chief of a very large area in Britain and provincial governor of a great number of Britons. In fact, according to Mr. Henty’s penned words and voiced by a Roman official:
“....how useful it would be that the Britons of the east, where the great rising of Rome took place, should be governed by one of their own chiefs, who, having a knowledge of the might and power of Rome, would, more than any other, be able to influence them in remaining peaceful and adopting somewhat of our civilization.”
The following information is "borrowed" from reviews of other G.A. Henty audios narrated by Jim Hodges that I did previously, but it is indicative of all of Mr. Hodges’s audio MP3 productions.
Jim Hodges has done an excellent job of bringing Henty’s book to life. He has a clear and pleasant voice, and I really like the way he uses expression and vocal inflections to emphasize each character’s dialogue. But these inflections are subtle and not distracting or irritating, as some can be when narrators change between the voices of the characters. And although there are no background effects or music, none are needed.
The story flows along at a comfortable pace, and the listener is immediately drawn into the story. The recording is professional sounding and of high quality. Mr. Hodges is a first-rate storyteller—not to mention an excellent judge of fine literature that is worthy enough to be forever captured on audio. A living book in living sound! Well done!
The MP3 recording is unabridged and lasts thirteen hours, nineteen minutes. However, the disc will only play on a computer CD drive, a DVD player, or an MP3 compatible CD player. It will not play on a standard CD player. But Mr. Hodges does offer regular CD recordings of his readings as well. The cost of the MP3 (on his website) is $25.00, and I think the product is well worth the money. You can also download the first chapter as a freebie, which is a nice option.
I want to get more of Mr. Hodges’ recordings to add to our homeschool audio collection, especially since we want to foster good listening skills as part of our children’s education. And I think that having the child follow along in the book as he/she listens to the audio is also a valuable idea! My son will often listen to a book on tape during quiet time, and G.A. Henty books are always at the top of his list!
For more information about Mr. Hodges, his available recordings, articles, links, frequently asked questions, and even more about G.A. Henty, you can visit Jim’s website at www.hentybooksontape.com. This MP3 recording of Beric the Briton is definitely a "keeper" in this homeschool, and I highly recommend this audio resource to other homeschoolers—especially those who have a love of history, fine literature, and great storytelling. You won’t be disappointed!