Captain Bayley's Heir | Review

I love to hear me a good tale. You too?

Captain Bayley's Heir might be my favorite audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions to date. It's an exciting, adventurous tale of the "Old West," but it also has an element of mystery and romance. It is filled with colorful characters, tales of the gold fields of California, and the power of God's grace.

Setting the Stage

Our story opens as Mr. George heads off to the goldfields of California to conduct research for his next book, Captain Bayley’s Heir. He hired a wagon and driver to experience what the pioneers faced as they traveled across the plains pursuing the promise of gold. And that's how he meets Frank, the young driver transporting folks across California, finding his own way in life.

But, our story really begins in England where we first meet Harry, a 15 year old boy who brings a ray of sunshine and joy to the forgotten grey alleyway of backstreet London with his violin music and cheerful heart. Harry is a cripple. His parents are Mr. and Mrs. Hall.

Using crutches to pull himself along in a crude little wagon, Harry was taking his dog on a walk, when he meets Frank, Fred, and Alice. Frank, 18, is carefree, and friendly, Alice, 14, is strong spirited with "bouncing blonde curls," and Fred, 18, is intellectual, polite, and reserved.  Fred and Frank are cousins and good friends. Alice is considered a cousin, though of no relation. She was taken in by Captain Bayley as her uncle when her parents died, and she and Frank both live at the estate.

They are having a conversation about the mysterious missing daughter of Captain Bayley when a commotion interrupts them. Harry's dog has fallen through the ice. Frank rushes over and dives into the frigid water to rescue the dog.

Captain Bayley, 70s, is a rigid, robust man with a temper, and he is not happy to hear about Frank's daring rescue. However, underneath, there is a gentle kindness, but also a sadness about him over the loss of his daughter Ella.

Little did he know how much this incident would change his life!

Now that the story is set and I've introduced the main characters, I'll give you a quick synopsis of the rest of the story. Frank is wrongly accused of stealing a 10 pound note, and at the threat of expulsion and thinking his uncle has disowned him, he runs away to America at Fred's urging. Frank decides to go with the hopes of making it on his own and one day coming back to prove his innocence.

He gets a deck hand job on board the Mississippi, a fine clipper ship, and at the very hour he was to be expelled, he sets sail for America. He learns how to brace the sails, coil the ropes, and swab the deck with speed and agility. His hard work grants him favor with Hiram, a flatboat river captain who hires Harry. After Harry saves the boat and the cargo during a fierce storm, the owner of the boat, Mr. Wilcox, rewards Harry with $200 - enough money to buy a horse and cart and get started on his way to California. They load him up with a rifle and a pistol, and Harry sets off with the peace that he is in God's hands.

That's when Harry meets Abe, Rube, and Dickens who take him under their wing and invite them to join the wagon train going West. Of course, there is danger on the trail, Indian attacks, and disquieting news as the plot thickens, along with plenty of prospecting, pay dirt, and shoot outs as Frank makes a new life for himself and even becomes a hero.

But, Frank is thinking about his family and friends back in England, and they are thinking about him. Will they reconnect? Will Frank be exonerated? What about the mysterious daughter? And just who is the real heir to Captain Bayley's fortune? I don't want to give too much away, so you'll have to listen to find out, but I can tell you that George Alfred Henty loved to write great stories that inspire you to live life deeper.

Our Experience

We listened to this 2 1/2 hour audio drama on a road trip, and we all enjoyed the adventure. Frank was our favorite character overall. Elli, 10, liked how brave Frank was. Malachi, 12, liked his attitude towards life, and that he was good at heart. I like that my kids are learning Christian morals and values through his character as Frank learns to trust God.

This high quality drama features a great cast, special music, and realistic sound effects. You'll hear covered wagons rumbling along the plains, stampeding buffalos, and much more.

I think one of these reasons I liked Captain Bayley's Heir so much is because there was more mystery and adventure amidst the danger, and less pumped up battle scenes than we heard in Under Drake's Flag, With Lee in Virginia, and In the Reign of Terror, though there is still plenty of action, stagecoach robberies, gun shooting, and more.

Along with the physical set of CD's, I received access to online content. We enjoyed using the Read Along Script, Chapter Quiz, and Thinking Further questions from the Live the Adventure Club site.

The Chapter Quiz is the "Listening Well" portion of the study guide, and it includes comprehension questions. Here are a few sample questions: 

If you read my last review, you may remember that I had some problems getting the Live the Adventure Club to work on my phone. About eight chapters in, I couldn't log in anymore. Well, I finally figured out what was wrong - I had pop ups blocked on my phone. I turned them back on, and I can log in and use the site again on my phone without any problems.

This made my review so easy and smooth. We were able to listen on my phone while on a road trip. It was wonderful to not only be able to listen so easily, but it made our trip fly by with another wonderful story from G.A. Henty and Heirloom Audio.

Because I am a visual learner, I especially like being able to follow along with the Read Along Script.  I got so much more out of the audio, than if I were to just listen. Plus, it scrolls for you and highlights where you are at in the audio.

Bonus Content

As a member of the Live the Adventure Club, you can also:

Listen to the official soundtrack...

Read the original Henty book in Captain Bayley's Heir eBook...

Download the study guide, which includes comprehension questions (Listening Well), questions to think about (Thinking Further), and vocabulary (Defining Words) very similar to the online content, but in a printable format...

We found it more convenient to use the online format because it is interactive, gives answers to the quiz questions (Listening Well portion of the study guide), contains the Thinking Further questions as well as the Defining Words, and is easy to access and use. However, the Study Guide contains additional content such as a biography on G.A. Henty, historical information in "Expand Your Learning" sections, such as what is what like in the mining camps or important people of the Gold Rush, resources on learning about Victorian England and the American West, as well as Bible studies on God's Grace, Becoming a Christian, and Honoring Your Parents.

You can also find other downloads such as a cast poster and an inspirational hymn poster in the Bonus Content as well.

Our family enjoys audio dramas. They are entertaining, educational, and a great way to bring history alive. You too? If so, check out Heirloom Audio for more Christian radio theatre, where "there are always more stories to be told, and more adventures to be had."

I can't wait to see what new adventures they come out with next!

Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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