Star Trek: 8 Best Book-Only Characters, Ranked

While Star Treks most iconic characters have all come from its many TV series and movies, there are some fantastic characters in the Trek novels also.


  • The Star Trek novels introduce unique characters like Akaar and Treir, adding depth to the expansive Starfleet universe.
  • Characters like Nick Keller and Elias Vaughn bring new perspectives to the post-DS9 era, facing challenging galactic events.
  • Mackenzie Calhoun leads the USS Excalibur in a new hero ship series, showcasing tactical genius in the New Frontier books.

Just like the universe itself, the Star Trek franchise is huge and far-reaching, encompassing several television shows, and numerous video games, movies, and books. While many of Star Trek‘s most iconic characters appear in various series and films, there are many other great characters who only feature in alternative media sources. For instance, the final frontier has spawned some memorable video game-based characters.

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Yet perhaps the richest source of characters is the now questionably canon series of books that take place following The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. From fresh takes on classic species like the Andorians and Orions, to some of Starfleet’s finest officers, the Star Trek novels are a treasure trove of notable figures.

Leonard James Akaar

First Appearence: Star Trek Mission Gamma Book One: Twilight

Leonard James Akaar from the Star Trek novels.

  • Author: David R. George III
  • Publication Date: September 2002

Leonard James Akaar is unique among novel-only characters in that he does, in fact, make a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance on televised Trek. “Friday’s Child,” an episode of The Original Series, ends with his birth; however, the Capellan royal would not be seriously fleshed out until 2002’s Mission Gamma: Twilight. By the time of the Deep Space 9 novels, Akaar had risen through the ranks of Starfleet to become an influential admiral with the ear of the Federation president.

Akaar’s strategic mindset and steely resolve proved essential in preserving the Federation through some of its darkest periods, including the Borg invasion depicted in the Star Trek: Destiny series. The Starfleet legend may have been born in The Original Series, but the Star Trek novels were where he made his name.

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First Appearence: Star Trek: Demons of Air and Darkness

The cover of Demons of Air and Darkness, the first Star Trek novel to feature the Orion Treir.

  • Author: Keith R. A. DeCandido
  • Publication Date: September 2001

Star Trek features many inspirational female characters, from Kira Nerys to Katherine Janeway. However, few are as resourceful or as motivated as Treir, an Orion Dabo girl who transformed Quark’s Bar into a highly successful business during the post-DS9 novels. Following her escape from Orion servitude, Treir earned her place as Quark’s right-hand woman by implementing a series of radical reforms, including hiring a Dabo boy to attract more customers.

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Treir may not play a significant role in the canon-shattering events depicted in the Deep Space 9 novels, but this ruthless businesswoman helped to make Star Trek‘s prose universe feel like a living, breathing place. If anyone is capable of giving Quark a run for his latinum, it’s her.

Nick Keller

First Appearence: Star Trek New Earth: Challenger

Challenger, Nick Keller's starship from the Star Trek: New Earth novels.

  • Author: Diane Carey
  • Publication Date: August 2000

New Earth, a series of six novels that take place between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan, was intended to act as a backdoor pilot for a new narrative focusing on Commander Nick Keller. In the final novel, Keller takes command of a makeshift starship in order to defend the human colony of Belle Terre from alien attack. Keller was conflicted between overthrowing his inept captain and preserving the lives of his comrades, and it’s a great shame that a full series based on the space cowboy’s adventures never emerged.

Interestingly, author Diane Carey based Keller’s appearance on Scott Bakula, who would go on to play Captain Jonathan Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise. Keller, however, would make only two more appearances in the Star Trek universe, with both being part of the multi-series Gateways crossover event.

Elias Vaughn

First Appearence: Star Trek: Avatar (Book One)

Elias Vaughn from the Star Trek novels.

  • Author: S. D. Perry
  • Publication Date: July 2001

Elias Vaughn was a Starfleet officer and intelligence operative who joined Deep Space 9’s command staff following the end of the Dominion War. Despite only holding the rank of commander, Vaughn’s expertise proved a boon to the Federation outpost, and he played a role in several key events, including the USS Defiant‘s post-war exploration of the Gamma Quadrant (depicted in the Mission Gamma sub-series).

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Vaughn was haunted by the death of his wife, Ruriko, and his troubled relationship with his estranged daughter, Prynn. This relationship was complicated by the fact that Prynn was also assigned to Deep Space 9. However, father and daughter were eventually able to reconcile–but not without some bumps along the way.

Christine Vale

First Appearence: Star Trek: The Belly of the Beast

The USS Titan, Christine Vale's ship, as depicted in Star Trek: Lower Decks.

  • Author: Dean Wesley Smith
  • Publication Date: August 2000

While William Riker’s USS Titan has made notable appearances in Star Trek: Lower Decks, the starship’s adventures were originally chronicled in a series of spin-off novels. These books featured Christine Vale, a former detective turned Starfleet officer, as Riker’s second-in-command. Vale was initially unwilling to take the post, as she disliked the idea of Riker working so closely with his wife, Deanna Troi.

Luckily, Vale took the post, which allowed her to act as a counterweight to any of Riker’s Troi-related biases. During her time aboard the USS Titan, she helped to explore the Beta Quadrant and fend off a Borg invasion. Indeed, her record was so good that, following Riker’s promotion to admiral, she took command of the Luna-class starship.

Thirishar ch’Thane

First Appearence: Star Trek: Avatar (Book One)

Shar, an Andorian scientist from the Star Trek novels.

  • Author: S. D. Perry
  • Publication Date: July 2001

From their initial appearance in 1967’s “Journey to Babel” and 2001’s “The Andorian Incident,” references to Star Trek‘s Andorians were true and far between. One important detail was disclosed in The Next Generation, however: Andorians have four sexes, with all four required for successful reproduction.

The character of Thirishar ch’Thane (or “Shar”) was a response to this premise. Shar served as Deep Space Nine’s science officer following the end of the Dominion War, but was torn between his commitments to Starfleet and to his mating group, who wished him to return to Andor. This dilemma was further complicated by a dangerous decline in Andorian fertility, which threatened to cause the Andorians’ extinction in the long term. Shar was eventually able to use his scientific knowledge to help solve the Andorian fertility crisis.

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First Appearence: Star Trek: Avatar (Book One)

Taranatar, a Jem'Hadar, and several other Star Trek characters.

  • Author: S. D. Perry
  • Publication Date: July 2001

The Jem’Hadar are one of Star Trek‘s most iconic creations, a powerful race of warriors motivated by their addiction to the chemical ketracel-white. During the Dominion War of 2373–2375, the Jem’Hadar were central to the Dominion assaults which nearly overwhelmed the Federation Alliance.



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After the war’s conclusion, Taran’atar, a Jem’Hadar without a ketracel-white dependency, was sent to Deep Space Nine as a cultural observer. Taran’atar’s struggle to adjust to the Alpha Quadrant during peacetime makes for fascinating reading, as does seeing the fearsome warrior growing closer to his former enemies. Taran’atar’s story takes some strange twists and turns, but he remains a fascinating character.

Mackenzie Calhoun

First Appearence: Star Trek New Frontier: House of Cards

Mackenzie Calhoun, as depicted on the cover of the Star Trek book No Limits.

  • Author: Peter David
  • Publication Date: July 1997

In 1997, Pocket Books published the first of Peter David’s New Frontier books. While these novels included several characters from TV Trek (mostly notably Commander Shelby from “The Best of Both Worlds”), they focused on a new hero ship, the USS Excalibur, and a new captain: Mackenzie Calhoun. Calhoun, an alien warrior modeled after Mel Gibson, was depicted as a tactical genius capable of beating Starfleet’s toughest challenges–including the infamous Kobayashi Maru test.

Calhoun soon became a fan-favorite, with his New Frontier series including over 20 volumes. The Xenanian captain was even popular enough to be made into an action figure, the only example of this honor being bestowed on a character originating from any of Star Trek‘s novels.


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