Tolkien's compactness and clarity of language is blowing me away. I'm reading LOTR for the first time in English, and this description of Minas Tirith made my brain boil. How was it possible to squeeze it all into one paragraph? I had to search for an image to see it. This is a still from the movie, and I'm sure there are more interpretations, but how...how...it drives me nuts that I don't have this mastery of language yet. And it left me in awe.
"For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that is was built on seven levels, each delved into a hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each wall was a gate. But the gates were not set in line: the Great Gate in the City Wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so that the paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then that across the of the hill. And each time that is passed the line of the Great Gate in went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of rock whose huge out-thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labor of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below."