Try reading "The Sharing Knife" by Lois McMaster Bujold. It's four tightly linked novels. Strictly speaking, it's fantasy, but there are no elves, or dragons, or swords involved. I mean no offense to anybody with that because I do read some stuff with swords, etc, - The Lord of the Rings, some of Anne McCaffrey's stuff, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, etc. The two main characters are people you want to know - and Bujold goes a long way toward helping you get to know them. There are four subsidiary characters you also get to know pretty well. Bujold's forte is character development, but there is also action. Elizabeth Moon's "Vatta's War" series - 5 novels - is another good bet, as are her Herris Serrano/Esmay Suiza novels, of which there are 8 or 9 or 10. Oh, okay, I can't quit without mentioning Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series. One can start with "Komarr" and "A Civil Campaign", even though she wrote numerous novels and novellas in the series which come before those two novels. Bujold has won four Hugo's in the novel category, more than anybody else except Heinlein who also won four.