Mellisandra, on 30 June 2011 - 09:16 AM, said:
Heh, on a more serious note, I took MDD's "Only death pays for life" to mean if you want to save a particularly life from dying, then something else has to die in its place.
I basically took it that way, too. However, it seemed an inversion to me because I would think that it is, in reality, life that is paying for life (with death being the way payment is made). Having it phrased that way causes me to wonder if there is a subtle distinction being made...
Regardless of the subtleties of phrasing, the notion is presented as some sort of general principle (as opposed to a a rule specific to the workings of blood magic). And it's when I try to imagine the concept as a general principle that I start having strange ideas.
And, of course, there is the fact that Drogo was not actually dead yet. Theoretically, he still had his own life to make use of (if not his health). If he had died, and they were about to reanimate him, I would have understood the transaction better.
Of course, all this is trying to read far more into the scene than the info really justifies. But it's hard to resist the temptation, since GRRM didn't really offer much explanation as to why these singular events played out the way they did. In fairness, there's little reason to expect that the characters really understood, either, and this is a 3rd Person Limited structure...