Alise has auburn hair and very freckled skin. She is considered plain or even unattractive by most in Bingtown; despite being presented to society at age eighteen, she remained unmarried at twenty-one. This lack of attention from suitors came as a devastating blow to her self-esteem.
In response, Alise resigned herself to spinsterhood and turned her attention to studying Elderlings. Alise considers herself a scholar, and goes to great lengths to educate herself in dragonlore. She prides herself in copying, translating, reading or purchasing every scroll related to dragons and Elderlings she can get her hands on.
The wealthy Trader Hest Finbok begins to court Alise, much to her surprise. Alise is initially suspicious of his attention. Hest admits that he is courting Alise for his own convenience, because their mutual friend Sedric Meldar had suggested that Alise was independent enough to allow Hest to essentially continue his current lifestyle. After Hest promises that she will have free rein to pursue her scholarly interests, Alise accepts his marriage proposal. As their wedding approaches, Alise develops strong romantic feelings for Hest.
However, their marriage immediately sours. Hest is unkind and inattentive, frequently away from home, and only occasionally interested in sex with Alise as a means to conceive an heir. Alise immerses herself further in her studies to distract herself from her unhappiness, using Hest's sizable funds to expand her scroll collection.
Growing ever more unhappy, Alise finally exercises a clause in her marriage contract which allows her to travel to the Rain Wilds to visit the young dragons and living Elderlings, against her husband's wishes. Hest reluctantly concedes her right to do so, but insists that Sedric accompany her. Alise books passage to Trehaug aboard the liveship Paragon.
On the journey upriver, Paragon requests to speak to Alise. Alise learns that the dragon hatchlings are stunted, malformed, and likely possess few ancestral memories, which disappoints her. She briefly toys with the idea of returning to Bingtown on the Paragon, but the hitherto morose Sedric unexpectedly urges her to continue on to Cassarick, if only to avoid Hest's derision. Alise agrees.
During her visit to Cassarick she discovers the dragons are to be sent up the Rain Wild River in which some hope they will die, some hope they will be resettled and all hope they won't return. Upset with the situation, Alise signs aboard the Tarman expedition in hopes of safeguarding the dragons as she researches them.
Alise builds a rapport with several of the dragons and keepers, particularly Sintara and Thymara. Throughout the journey her dragonlore and open nature helps ensure the group pushes forward. She also begins a relationship with Captain Leftrin.
When the expedition finally reaches Kelsingra Alise spends her time taking notes upon every detail of the city and is upset by any disturbances of the ruins. Mercor eventually informs her that the ruins will be more than disturbed but will not be pillaged, the dragons instead intend to restore Kelsingra as the City of Dragons.
Her husband Hest is first furious when she signs aboard but later turns to greed, Alise's part in the discovery of Kelsingra would grant her a 1/24th share of the profits. He also hopes to push a successful claim that Sedric was representing his interests as his employee to provide him with a full 1/12th.