I do love A Song of Ice & Fire for the complex three dimensional characters and political intrigue, but the gritty realism thing, uh, not really a fan. It works well in this series, but it's an exception to what I normally enjoy. Reading about seriously flawed heroes who live in a Crapsack World
just isn't my idea of fun. It's exhausting. I appreciate the suggestions, but the ones I've looked into come across as too dreary for me. You can be serious without losing your sense of fun, whimsy, and adventure. Ideally what I want is something with the characters and tone of Discworld with the storytelling of A Song of Ice & Fire. Basically Buffy or Xena or even Babylon 5 in novel form.
I'm leaning towards checking out Tigana based upon this review
of it. It also has a high rating on Amazon, so it seems like a safe bet.