That's rough. Permadeath *and* character-driven? The Fire Emblem games are the only ones I can think of that lean so heavily on those two things.
As for general turn-based strategy? There's also the original X-Com, though now I recommend getting that and loading it up through OpenXcom, which generally makes it much nicer on a modern machine than plain old DOSBox.
Someone mentioned FFT. I'll go ahead and recommend Tactics Ogre along with it, which, IMO, has a more grounded world.
If you're on the GBA, you might want to hunt down a copy of Rebelstar. It's designed by the same person who did the original X-Com.