Alise is a young Bingtown lady, from a middle class trading family. She has dedicated her life to the study of dragons and Elderlings. She is described as plain, with long curly red hair and freckles. She has an older sister called Rose.
Alise is taken aback when Hest Finbok tries to court her, and even more so when he proposes marriage. However, she realises that this may be her only offer of marriage, and so accepts Hest's proposal, with his promise that he will allow her to continue her studies as his wife.
After they marry, Alise discovers that Hest is cruel and selfish, and that his charming manners were all a facade. He shows no real interest in his wife, except that he wishes her to bear him children. But Alise never gets pregnant, and after several years of marriage, she demands that she travel to the Rain Wilds, in order to study the dragons first hand. Hest is forced to allow her to go, but he sends his secretary, and Alise's childhood friend, Sedric Meldar, to travel with her as a chaperon.
When they reach Trehaug, Alise signs a contract at the Rain Wilds Council to help escort the dragons upriver, to the city of Kelsingra. Sedric is forced to accompany her, and they travel onboard the Tarman, with Leftrin as captain. From their first meeting, Alise and Leftrin are mutually attracted to each other, however they resist their feelings as best they can.
The dragon Sintara takes a liking to Alise, due to her respectful and flattering way of speaking with her. This fustrates Sintara's keeper, Thymara, who does most of the hard work in caring for Sintara. It also broadens the rift between Alise and Sedric, the latter of which does not think highly of the dragons, and simply wants to return to Bingtown as soon as possible.