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The Dragon & the Raven {A Jim Hodges Audio Book Review}

Jim Hodges Productions has a wonderful line up of Henty books on audio and I'd love to share our review of The Dragon & the Raven as well as the Study Guide in PDF format that accompanies it.

Setting: This book takes place in AD 870-901 during the days of King Alfred and the Viking Invasion of England and France.


  1. The Fugitives 25:40

  2. The Battle of Kesteven 23:48

  3. The Massacre at Croyland 30:04

  4. The Invasion of Wessex 24:51

  5. A Disciplined Band 23:18

  6. The Saxon Fort 24:15

  7. The Dragon 23:43

  8. The Cruise of The Dragon 25:10

  9. A Prisoner 24:32

  10. The Combat 26:33 (Available as a free download)

  11. The Isle of Athelney 26:29

  12. Four Years of Peace 16:00

  13. The Siege of Paris 25:00

  14. The Repulse of the Norsemen 25:21

  15. Friends in Trouble 24:09

  16. Freda 26:1917.

  17. A Long Chase 23:52

  18. Freda Discovered 17:52

  19. United 22:52

Total time: 7 hours, 20 minutes

Price: $25 for MP3 CD; $18 digital download

Henty's books are filled with heroes with virtuous character. They are fast paced, adventurous and though a fiction work, they are filled with historical accuracy. They are wonderful books, but are even more wonderful on audio!

The Dragon and the Raven is set during the time of King Alfred. The hero is Edmund, a young Saxon thane, who becomes King Alfred's mightiest warrior.

Henty books are in the public domain so the book is available for free online in text and in audio recording.

So, why would you want to buy this audio?

First of all, it is convenient to have the book on MP3 CD. You can play it from any MP3 CD player and can also add it to your media library and install on your smart phone or tablet for portable listening.

It is also a professional recording. Many of the free audio books available are based on volunteers and are often not as good quality wise and often have mistakes.

Jim Hodges has a pleasant voice with good tone and articulation to make the story enjoyable. It's hard not to get drawn into a Henty Book, but Hodges does a great job bringing the story to life.

The only con with this audio recording is that it does have a cost and can only play on MP3 CD players, computers, or DVD players. But, it worked well for us adding it to my media library on iTunes and then adding it to my iPhone to listen to.

These stories are best for ages 10 and up. I used this with Malachi who turns 10 in February, so he is a little on the young side, but he was up for the challenge because of the nature of the book. He loves History, adventure stories, and stories about the Vikings!

Normally, we read and enjoy a book and I may ask some comprehension questions, but the use of the Study Guide, at 55 pages long, took that to a new and challenging level!

Study Guide

The study guide offers vocabulary, comprehension questions, and activities.

For each chapter, Malachi first looks up the vocabulary words from the Study Guide and writes a definition for each word - rich vocabulary words like hummock, impetuous, chalice, cynings, pimogeniture, and harrying! Then he listens to the chapter being read aloud on the audio. While he listens, I have him make a check mark beside the vocabulary words he hears. What's neat is that they are listed in the order they appear in the story. Malachi doesn't get them all, but his listening skills are improving!

Then he answers comprehension questions by writing them down in the Study Guide. The questions require recall from the story - questions like: "Describe the topography of Edmund's home" or "When the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain in the AD 400's, they eventually established seven kingdoms. Name those kingdoms." Because it is all on audio, it is tough sometimes to get all the info without replaying sections a few times. He also has a little trouble with the spellings. For this reason, I think a printed book would accompany younger learners nicely. I pulled up a free online text of the book to help him.

Finally, there are additional enrichment activities in the Study Guide - activities like: "Compare and contrast the Danes and the Saxons" and "Weapons are discussed in the battle scene. Pick two weapons to research, illustrate, and write about." 

Priced at $12, the Study Guide could easily turn the audio book into a complete unit study!

Working this way, it takes us about 3 days to do one chapter. So we are doing about one chapter a week. Malachi is on the young end for the book and study guide, but he enjoys the challenge!

What's wonderful is that Jim Hodges does the reading for me! It is such a relief to me right now to get our read-aloud time in using a book on audio! I also think it will make a nice transition for more independent learning as my children grow.
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