I started reading Jo Walton's novel The King's Peace this week, and I set it aside when I got about ninety pages in and realized that I had no idea who these characters were. I'll try it again another time; I found the book's opening chapters fairly well-done and interesting, so I'm assuming this is a case of me just not being in a "fantasy" kind of mood just now. So I'm onto Conqueror's Legacy by Timothy Zahn, the concluding volume of a space-opera trilogy the first two volumes of which I enjoyed greatly. I do find it a bit strange that I haven't been in a "fantasy" mood for a long time now. Fantasy has been my favorite genre for years, but more and more I'm becoming interested in science fiction and also in horror (including "dark fantasy", a term which I find cumbersome but unavoidable). There isn't much fantasy out there right now that I'm really hankering to read, but there's a ton of SF and horror that I want to get to.
(Oh, and a minor rant: it occurs to me that the two epic fantasies that I've bounced off in recent months -- The King's Peace and Sean Russell's The One Kingdom -- are books that are set in large kingdoms with lots of traveling and such, and yet the books have no maps. Maybe I've come to lean on maps in fantasy books too much, as a kind of crutch, but I find them almost indispensible in fantasy these days. And come to think of it, they're often very useful in SF, too.)