ABC's of Ian Murray

Young Ian in OUTLANDER Season 7

Wishing a happy 271st birthday (believe it or not!) to Ian James FitzGibbons Fraser Murray, aka Wolf's Brother, aka Young Ian Murray. He was born in November 1752. In recent years, OUTLANDER fans have been celebrating his (UNOFFICIAL) birthday on November 15th, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to repost my "ABC's of Ian Murray". It's been a few years since I first posted this, and I wanted to update it to add a few references to BEES.

(NOTE TO NITPICKERS: I said it was UNOFFICIAL, because the exact date of Ian's birth is not mentioned in the text of the books. A lot of people say November 15 because that's what the Outlander Wiki says, and that's why I picked today to post this. You're welcome to disagree, of course. We won't know the exact date for sure unless Diana Gabaldon gives a definitive answer. All we know for certain right now is that he was born sometime in November 1752.)

ABC's of Ian Murray

I borrowed this idea from a writer's exercise that was posted on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now about ten years ago. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. Here's my alphabet for Young Ian Murray.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will find Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.









A for Adventurous. Ian has never been the sort of person who is content to stay at home. He's always been a wanderer, and evidently was from an early age, as his father recalls:

“Aye, well, he’s always been forward,” Ian answered resignedly. “Learnt to walk before he could stand, and was forever tumblin’ into the fire or the washpot or the pigpen or the cowbyre.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "Up in Flames". Copyright ©1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

B for Bruja, the ship that took him to Jamaica, where he was held captive by Geillis Abernathy. Also for Brianna, his beloved cousin.

C for the Conflict between the Mohawk and Scottish sides of his nature.

“They took me to the stream, scrubbed me wi’ sand to take away the white blood. They gave me my name--Okwaho’kenha--and said I was Mohawk. But I wasna, not really.”

He sighed deeply again, and she put a hand on his back, feeling the bumps of his backbone press through the leather of his shirt. He didn’t eat nearly enough, she thought.

“But I wasna what I had been, either,” he went on, sounding almost matter-of-fact. “I tried to be what they wanted, ken? So I left off praying to God or the Virgin Mother, or Saint Bride. I listened to what Emily said, when she’d tell me about her gods, the spirits that dwell in the trees and all. And when I went to the sweat lodge wi’ the men, or sat by the hearth and heard the stories ... they seemed as real to me as Christ and His saints ever had.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 70, "Emily". Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

D for his beloved Dog, Rollo, whom he won in a game of Dice. Rollo was Ian's constant companion for so many years, it's still hard to believe that he's gone.

E for Emily, Ian's nickname for his Mohawk wife, Wakyo’teyehsnonhsa, or Works With Her Hands. She was the first woman he ever truly loved, and he felt her loss deeply, long after he had left Snaketown forever.

F for Neil Forbes, whose ear he cut off in ABOSAA, in revenge for Forbes having kidnapped Brianna.

G for the Guilt he felt when he thought he'd killed the intruder in the printshop in Edinburgh, and later when he killed Mrs. Bug by accident.

“It wasn’t your fault,” I said gently.

“I know,” he said, and swallowed. “But I dinna see how I can live.” He wasn’t dramatic about it at all; his voice was simply bewildered. Rollo licked his hand, and his fingers sank into the dog’s ruff, as though for support.

“What can I do, Auntie?” He looked at me, helpless. “There’s nothing, is there? I canna take it back, or undo it. And yet I keep looking for some way that I can. Something I can do to make things right. But there’s … nothing.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Life for Life". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

H for his "half-homely" features. Also for his beloved son, Hunter.

I for Iseabeil, Ian's stillborn first daughter, and also for his father, Ian the Elder.

J for Ian's mother, Jenny Fraser Murray. Owing to circumstances beyond their control, Ian had little contact with his mother as a teenager and a young man, and I was glad to see them reunited.

K for the Kahn'yen'kehaka, or Mohawk. The time Ian spent living with them changed his life profoundly, in many ways.

L for Lallybroch, where he grew up. Also for Latin. Ian wasn't much of a student of languages as a teenager, but he recalled enough to be able to communicate with Lord John when they were being held prisoner by the British army in MOHB.

M for the Mammoth skeleton that Ian takes Brianna to see in ABOSAA. If the one Ian found was anything like the specimen pictured above (from Wikipedia), no wonder they were awestruck by its sheer size! I liked the fact that Ian chose to share this discovery with Brianna; the journey to see it added a lot of depth to their relationship. Ian confides in Bree when he cannot share what he's thinking or feeling with anyone else.

N for Nephew. Jamie bonded with his youngest nephew in the middle of a life-and-death crisis when the Redcoats burst into the house not long after he was born.

[Baby] Ian gave evidence of his living state by kicking his legs with considerable vigor against his uncle’s ribs and emitting a series of small snuffling grunts, which fortunately went unheard in the commotion outside.


Jamie rather thought the Captain was inquiring as to the location of the infant’s body. He clutched the body in question closer, joggling it in an attempt to prevent any disposition on its part to cry. His other hand went to the hilt of his dirk, but it was a vain gesture; it was doubtful that even cutting his own throat would be of help, if the wardrobe were opened.

Baby Ian made an irascible noise, suggesting that he disliked being joggled. With visions of the house in flames and the inhabitants slaughtered, the noise sounded as loud to Jamie as his elder nephew’s anguished howls.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 5, "To Us a Child is Given". Copyright © 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

O for Okwaho, Rollo's Mohawk name, and also for Oggy, the nickname Ian and Rachel gave their son as an infant.

P for Perceptive. Even as a teenager, Ian helped to mend Jamie and Claire's relationship more than once, as when they first arrived in Snaketown in DRUMS:

“But you think he thinks I’m angry at him?”

“Oh, anyone could see ye are, Auntie,” he assured me earnestly. “Ye dinna look at him or speak to him save for what ye must--and,” he said, clearing his throat delicately, “I havena seen ye go to his bed, anytime this month past.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 53, "Blame". Copyright © 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Q for Questions. Newly arrived in the Colonies, Ian was intensely curious about everything he saw.

R for Rollo, Ian's longtime companion. Also for Rachel Hunter. I think Ian and Rachel were very lucky to find one another. Rachel is a strong-willed woman with a mind of her own, just like Ian's mother Jenny, but she also makes it very clear that she accepts Ian for who he is, even when he's committed acts of violence that go against everything she believes as a Quaker.

“I think we can’t wait any longer to be married, Ian,” she said softly. “I will not have thee face such things alone. These are bad times, and we must be together.”

He closed his eyes and all the air went out of him. When he drew breath again, it tasted of peace.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 92, "I Will Not Have Thee Be Alone". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

S for Snaketown, the Mohawk village where Ian lived for two years, and where he met and married Works With Her Hands, aka Emily. Also for his role as a Scout during the Revolutionary War.

T for the Tattoos on Ian's face that mark him forever as one of the Kahn'yen'kehaka, even after he returns to the Ridge. Also for Tòtis, aka Swiftest of Lizards, Emily's eldest child, whom we met in AN ECHO IN THE BONE. According to Tewaktenyonh, the old Mohawk woman, the boy is the child of Ian's spirit, meaning that the Mohawk consider him Ian's son, no matter who his biological father might be. I was delighted to see Ian and Rachel take the boy into their family in BEES. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to life on Fraser's Ridge.

U for his beloved Uncle, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Jamie's relationship to Ian runs much deeper than uncle to nephew. In the Highland tradition, they are foster-father and foster-son, and they have a close and loving relationship. I really enjoy watching their interactions over the course of the series, as Young Ian grows into manhood.

V for Violence. When he or his loved ones are threatened, Ian tends to react with startling violence, as when he killed "Mr. X", the would-be blackmailer, in ECHO.

“Don’t--” I began, turning to Jamie, but never got to finish. I saw the expression change on Jamie’s face, saw him leap toward the man--and whirled just in time to see Ian materialize out of the darkness behind the blackmailer and put a sinewy arm round his throat.

I didn’t see the knife. I didn’t have to; I saw Ian’s face, so intent as almost to be expressionless--and I saw the ex-overseer’s face. His jaw dropped and the whites of his eyes showed, his back arching up in a futile attempt at escape.

Then Ian let go, and Jamie caught the man as he began to fall, his body gone suddenly and horribly limp.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 68, "Despoiler". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

It will be interesting to see if his marriage to Rachel makes him less willing to use violence in such situations.

W for Wolf's Brother, or Okwaho’kenha, Ian's Mohawk name. I like the fact that the name they gave him reflects his very close relationship with Rollo.

X for eXile. Kidnapped from Scotland at the age of fourteen, forced to give up all contact with his white relatives during the time he lived as a Mohawk, and then settling on Fraser's Ridge, an ocean away from Lallybroch, Ian has spent much of his life apart from his family and loved ones.

Y for Youngest. Ian is the youngest of Jenny and Ian Murray's seven children. Also for Yeksa'a, his stillborn daughter.

Z for Zero. The number of times Ian had encountered a skunk before coming to America. He learned the hard way that it's better to leave them alone!

“Ian,” I said, taking refuge behind Jamie. “Call off your dog. Skunks are dangerous.”

“They are?” Jamie turned a look of puzzlement on me. “But what--”

“Polecats only stink,” I explained. “Skunks--Ian, no! Let it alone, and come inside!” Ian, curious, had reached out and prodded the skunk with his poker. The skunk, offended at this unwarranted intimacy, stamped its feet and elevated its tail.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 10, "Jocasta". Copyright © 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I hope you enjoyed these! I think Ian is a terrific character. Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating him, and to John Bell for bringing him to life on TV!

Are there other aspects of Ian's character, or other incidents in his life, that you'd like to add to this list? I'm sure there are things I left out. What do you think of Ian's character, in the books or show? Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

Here are the other posts in this series:

ABC's of Jamie Fraser
ABC's of Claire Fraser
ABC's of Roger
ABC's of Brianna
ABC's of Lord John Grey


Fed Up with Weeds said...

Thank You Karen! Enjoyed that ABC's of Young Ian - brought back many good memories...

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much ,what fun to read and the little clips of Diana's writing brought me back in time ,what a wonderful way to remember Ian's birthday !

Patsylou2 said...

Thanks for the clips. Have finished reading the last book and so I know what lies ahead in the show. I know all of the book won’t be in the show but I had to finish to know what is ahead.

VeeKaye said...

K for Kidnapped, a seminal part of Young Ian's life.

Karen Henry said...

VeeKaye - good one, thanks!


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