So, I'm reading The Witcher books. (Polish fantasy books. There's a big old video game that took the world by storm a few years ago, so I'm just discovering it recently, because I'm always way behind on these things. Give it a google if you don't know what I'm talking about)
I'll tell you right now, I'm not a fantasy guy. I'm not big on vast political stories of imaginary lands, magical McGuffins,or authors who describe exactly how attractive every female character who walks across the page is or isn't.
The Witcher, to one degree or another, is all of these. I'm liking it in spite of that, mostly because it is doing something I like and don't see much of.
The stories are, mostly, small. They're about characters stuck in a world they don't have much control over. Politics are whirling around them and screwing up their lives, but they won't be slaying any evil kings and setting it all straight. They'll just muddle along like everyone else.
The stories are about their lives, more or less.
Rather than tell a story of a monster being slain, you're just as likely to get on that picks up immediately after a monster is dead. The real challenge is that the love of your life has two loves of her own life, or you want to save someone who really wants to destroy themselves.
There are plenty of fantasy elements, but they're used to tell the stories of the characters, not the stories of the magic doohickey or dragon.
Way more interesting than walking across the realm to throw a magic ring in a volcano if you ask me.
Also, it does all kinds of nifty, Easter egg type things with polish folklore and Grimm's fairy tales. And, the writer has this quality to his writing that makes it all seem a little like a play. I like that.