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.
Have you read the three Babylon 5 Trilogies? They're excellent
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny was suggested, and it's not dreary/gritty at all, just fun Fantasy and Royl Family Political machinations
One Day I hope to be the Man my Cat thinks I am
Where are we going? And why are we in this Handbasket?