:As such, for me, Aegon ranks alongside Quentyn and First Book Sansa in terms of the author’s angriest writing about his own genre" could you expand on the sansa part
Sure! This is something @nobodysuspectsthebutterfly and I talked about at the last Ice & Fire Con: Sansa as a stand-in for the fantasy reader, specifically an uncritical reader. Her fall-into-knowledge over the course of AGOT is so dramatic and devastating because she starts out in a bubble, and that bubble is explicitly fueled by songs and stories. In other words, fantasy has left her unprepared for the likes of Cersei and Joffrey. Sansa’s been trained to look only at the surface, and not question what goes on beneath it. By demonstrating that she needs to ask those questions, the author is encouraging us to do the same. As such, after her beloved handsome prince forces her to watch her father executed after promising her that he would show mercy, Sansa is “reading” the world around her differently, wondering how she ever could have loved Joffrey.
What makes this more than a miserable grimdark grind, however, is the conclusion Sansa draws from this experience. She does not become Cersei, determined to imitate the unjust systems that have brought her low; she does not become Littlefinger, thinking only of what she is owed and creating more victims in the process. Instead, she gradually realizes that *she* must live up to the values expressed in the stories and songs, even–especially–if the world around her (particularly the institutions and individuals in power) does not. “If I am ever queen, I’ll make them love me,” for example, or even more powerfully, “he was no true knight.” The latter is what sparks Sandor’s own gradual reformation, because what Sansa is saying there is that the corrupt institution of knighthood, that which anointed Gregor and thus convinced Sandor that the values of knighthood he’d worshiped were a lie, has no monopoly on what it really means to be a true knight. That idea is a core theme of GRRM’s writing in this universe, from “a knight who remembered his vows” to “a king who still cared,” from “my people…they were afraid” to “no chance, and no choice.” For me personally, more than anything else, it’s what makes Sansa Stark such a compelling character.