I'm only maybe 1/4 of the way through WOA (the second book of the first series) and something has kind of been nagging at me for a while. I figured out what it is, finally, and it's that there are no women in this story. I mean, obviously there's Vin as the main character, but she has a lot of overtly masculine qualities and quite frankly a suppressed fondness for dresses and perfume just isn't enough for me. All of the feminine characters are bad, jealous, stupid, flippant and/or unimportant. The only other positive female characters I've met so far are either dead (Mare) or "other"/foreign (Tindwyl).
And the series, so far, clearly fails the Bechdel test. The only conversations Vin has had with other women have been about men (particularly Elend).
Does it get any better than this? I mean, it's honestly really starting to bother me. This series is almost like a reverse-harem trope with all the males surrounding the main character.
Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the world and the story otherwise (except for Elend's chapters that drone on and on about his ideal political structure which don't have any place in a society like this one IMO), but the complete lack of any female interaction is starting to bother me, TBH.
I've always considered this a legitimate criticism of Mistborn. In my plotting and planning, I was so focused on doing a good job with a dynamic female lead that I fell into a trap that is common for newer writers--to be less intentional about other characters, and default to male.
I think I once counted, and was able to find interactions in each book between Vin and women that were not related to men, and so the series does strictly pass the test--but the test has always been intended as a bare minimum. You can pass the test and still lack any real and meaningful representations of people different from yourself, and you can actually fail the test while not having this be a problem at all.
In the case of Mistborn, I consider it a legitimate weakness of the stories. I'm sorry it is distracting to you.
It is only a minor distraction, Brandon. And I think perhaps I am spoiled, because I read Stormlight 1 and 2 first and am only now just starting Mistborn, and your female characters in Stormlight are outstanding. The relationship between Shallan and Jasnah is amazing so I know that you are perfectly capable of writing complex and varied female characters. I think that's why I found it so striking that it seems to be missing in Mistborn.
Regardless... I am still enthralled with the books. I am enjoying the plot and I do love the characters. I can't wait to find out what the Deepness is or if Vin truly is the Hero of Ages (knowing the title of the third book probably spoils that one for me though, haha).
Thanks for taking the time to respond to me, Brandon! You are so good to your fans I really appreciate it! Can't wait to finish reading this series!
It wasn't long after finishing the series that I started to think about this aspect. I really wish I'd made Ham a woman, for example. I think the character would have gone interesting places--and would have done good things for the lore of the world if women Thugs were heavily recruited to be soldiers.
Reflecting on Mistborn has been very useful to me as a writer, however, as it's part of what helped me personally understand that you can do something like have a strong, and interesting, female lead but still have a series that overall displays a weakness in regards to female characters. This has greater implications for writing, not just in regards to female characters, and is something I don't think I could have learned without this series. (Where I worked so very hard on Vin that I thought I had this aspect down.)