Character Development: Nynaeve, Egwene, Elayne and Min
These chapters focus on Nynaeve and Elayne working to free Egwene and Min from the clutches of the Seanchan. Min's more or less free to come and go as she pleases, but she's working to free Egwene from her damane leash and collar. Nynaeve and Elayne are trying to do the same, with the added pressure of not getting caught themselves.
All four do a tremendous amount of character development in these chapters. Nynaeve actually manages to (somewhat) control her anger and step up as a leader. She is intent and focused on freeing Egwene, despite the sense of frustration eating at her; doubting that it can even be done. Elayne sheds some of the protected naivete she enjoyed in the court of Andor. For a future queen, Elayne is surprisingly pragmatic, stealing apples to eat. In the same sentence, though, she wonders why the Falmen don't rise up against their Seanchan oppressors - as if she had not faced their brutality days earlier. Egwene is deep in the dark places that we all occasionally find ourselves; and it's getting darker by the day. Hers is a particularly difficult development to watch; it steps right up to the edge of humanity and causes us to question it within ourselves. And Min stands tall as a friend; the strong counterpoint to Egwene's growing despair. In doing so, however, she hides her own feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness as Egwene receives another punishment for channeling without command. Despite the oppressing and suffocating cloud of despair surrounding all of them; they all continue to forge ahead, continuing to fight, and staying persistent.