A monstrous mystery lurking beneath a quiet London street...
A desperate plea for help delivered by – hang on... a potted plant?
The Doctor has been summoned. The galaxy is in terrible danger, and only a Time Lord can save it. But to do so, she must break in to an ancient vault on a remote and frozen world – from which nobody has ever returned alive...
The Fleet was planning an assault on the Avolantis System when the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan visited their planet. Space Lord Draal took possession of the TARDIS and sent a Mark VI combat mechanical to capture the crew. The Doctor reprogrammed this and other Mark VIs to prevent the Fleet from raging further wars and took prisoners held in Draal's throne room to their home planets.
By request of slightly homesick Graham, Team TARDIS returned to Sheffield to water plants in his and Ryan's apartment. One of the plants, a begonia that Graham took with him into the TARDIS used the TARDIS telepathic circuits to relay a message for the Doctor that the Gardeners of Tellus IV need her help.
The Doctor and Team TARDIS materialise on Tellus IV, where Willow, the leader of the Gardeners, imparts to the Doctor that the legendary Galactic Seed Vault on Calufrax Major was created by the First Gardener with the help of Time Lords. Willow explains that a renegade faction of the Gardeners led by Nightshade want to destroy the vault and asks for the Doctor's help. Worse than that, the vault has already been compromised by Nightshade's predecessors and messages to the keepers of the vault remain unanswered. The reason Willow contacted the Doctor now was that the Rose Garden of Eternity seemed to have predicted her involvement by depicting number 13. As Willow is showing the floral prophecy to Team TARDIS, Nightshade and his Grave Diggers, summoned by the traitor Parsley, suddenly ambush them. Nightshade burns down the Rose Garden of Eternity.
Assisted by the Lily of the Valley, the Doctor and her team escape in the TARDIS and head directly to the Galactic Seed Vault. The Doctor times their arrival to coincide with the return of a seed-collecting drone, which causes the doors to open letting them get inside. However, due to Ryan being delayed to help Graham, after he loses his footing, only the Doctor and Yaz make it inside the vault before the doors close again.
Trying to find a way to let Graham and Ryan into the vault, the Doctor discovers a hidden door of non-human proportions. A beetle-like creature emerges from it and confronts the Doctor and Yaz. It does not speak but can understand them. Upon hearing that the Doctor is a Time Lord, it takes them to the control room of the vault to see the Curatrix, the artificial intelligence running the vault. Passing through seed storage vaults, the Doctor and Yaz learn that they are too late and noughtweed smuggled into the vault by renegade Gardeners has already devastated eight of the twelve seed storage vaults. Trying to guess the renegade Gardners' plan based on modifications made to noughtweed, the Doctor discovers the existence of the thirteenth vault, to the big surprise of the Curatrix. It turns out that the insect, who confronted the Doctor and Yaz originally, who is called the Attendant, is not a mindless animal but the second guardian of the vault, capable of telepathic communication and the only guardian who knows about the secret vault and its contents. And the prophecied number 13 refers to the thirteenth vault rather than to the Doctor. The Attendant takes the Doctor and Yaz to the secret vault hidden behind a holographic shield wall.
- Thirteenth Doctor
- Graham O'Brien
- Yasmin Khan
- Ryan Sinclair
- The Curatrix
- The Attendant
- TARDIS Ryan
The Fleet planet
- The Faculty
- Tom Manners
- Mr Delgado
- Jonathan's sister
- Professor Tarkovsky
- Harry Houdini was known for impossible escapes.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave the Doctor brass binoculars with a handle as a thank-you gift for their help with a haunted-mask problem.
- Yasmin's father is allergic to animal fur.
- Ryan Sinclair once borrowed Graham O'Brien's car without asking in order to impress Alison Mayer.
- The original plans of the Galactic Seed Vault were made on yellowing parchment and resembled sketches by Leonardo da Vinci.
- Red Baron taught the Doctor to do a barrel roll.
- Zeno created Zeno's paralocks.
- The Fleet conquered 10,000 star systems. The Fleet were governed by the First Space Lord of the Admiralty.
- Time Lords have two hearts. They have long lives and can create a new body via a regeneration.
- The Doctor previously defeated Sontarans, Cybermen and Daleks.
- The Thirteenth Doctor encountered carnivorous chessmen on Proxima Ceti earlier.
- Hydrans have three heads.
- Giant spiders from Metebelis III have twelve eyes.
- In addition to the Hydran, the Space Lord holds a Dalse, a Chentan and two Zraryx prisoners in his throne room.
- Gardeners of Tellus IV care about plants.
- The Doctor is prepared to bet a box of Judoon chocolates.
- Bugbeasts of Zeta Draconis are easy to defeat.
- Megalovore sharks used to live in the Outland Sea.
- Devil Bird was a creature from the Fleet home world.
- There were sheep and bees on Tellus IV.
- The Doctor and her team ride on sledges pulled by Frost Lepuses on Calufrax Major.
- As a kid, Yasmin begged her parents to buy her a pet rabbit. Instead she was only allowed a cuddly toy she named Mister Hoppy.
- The Doctor mentions seashells and turtles. The growth of a seashells is facilitated by cells secreting a protein matrix, which binds calcium ions and encourages calcification.
- Graham has a yucca as a houseplant.
- Graham takes a begonia into the TARDIS.
- An orchid seemed to try to speak to the Doctor once on Solaria.
- Gardeners grow tomatoes on Tellus IV.
- The Doctor asks the Gardeners to take her to their cedar.
- At Willow's picnic, the travellers sample rainbow-coloured grapes, figs that happily sigh when bitten and blushing strawberries that pulsed in the hand.
- A Gardener waters a rose bush.
- The Doctor eats an apple.
- Walls of the Rose Garden of Eternity were made of yew hedges.
- Grave Digger weaponry was mostly plant-based and used black ash branches, dieback rounds, creeper-shot, poisonous hemlock and sunflower-based flamethrowers.
- In 3004, Mars went through the great ash dieback.
- The Rose Garden of Eternity predicted the first and second Venus flytrap massacres.
- Frost Lepuses eat carrots.
- Renegade Gardeners used a modified variety of noughtweed.
- Vault 13 contains seeds of doppelpod and Venusian gulper.
- A door in Vault 13 was made of oak.
- Genesis Seed was the first seed in the Galactic Seed Vault's collection.
- Mark VI combat mechanicals are military robots created by the Fleet.
Groups and organisations
- The Fleet operates from an unnamed planet.
- Bugbeasts live on Zeta Draconis.
- Time Lords from Gallifrey are known to the Fleet.
- Daleks are from Skaro.
- Carnivorous chessmen live on Proxima Ceti.
- The Fleet devastated their own home world.
- Hydrans originate from Polaris Alpha.
- The Fleet defeated Murgon III.
- Metebelis III is a planet of giant spiders.
- The TARDIS team decides to go to Lotos B but never gets there.
- The Doctor recalls an orchid seemingly trying to speak to her on Solaria.
- The TARDIS crew goes to Tellus IV to meet with the Gardeners.
- Gardeners brought topsoil from their home world.
- The Doctor names the monoliths on the moons of Europa as one of mysteries lost in the mists of time.
- The Galactic Seed Vault is on the ice planet of Calufrax Major.
- Mars went through ash dieback in 3004.
- Noughtweed is a plant from the planet Gehenna Prime.
- Doppelpod is a plant from the planet Aether.
- Venusian gulper is a plant from Venus.
- Ryan saw the Doctor escape 200 cyborg clones of Houdini in the subways of New York City in 1904.
- Graham tells his neighbour that he plans to visit relatives in Australia.
- The Doctor names Stonehenge as one of mysteries lost in the mists of time.
- Bernard pursues the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz through the Forest of Desolation, across the Burning Grounds and into the Valley of Agonies.
- The Citadel is in the Blasted Plains.
- The Fleet is planning to attack the Avolantis System.
- The Outland Sea boiled away during the Ice Cap Wars.
- The Doctor considers the Galactic Seed Vault to be one of the mysteries lost in the mists of time.
- The Outland Sea boiled away during the Ice Cap Wars.
- In 3004, Mars went through the great ash dieback.
- In 2151, bees invaded Earth.
- 3049, Yaz lost her wallet in a Martian moon base.
- Events on Tellus IV and Calufrax Major happen no earlier than 4004. Indeed, the Rose Garden of Eternity correctly predicted events of 3004, which happened at least one thousand years before the prophecy about the Doctor because the garden blooms once every thousand years and it was destroyed after the Doctor-related prophecy.
- A TARDIS has two "hearts": the engine room powered by the Eye of Harmony and the circular console room with the console. The TARDIS's main door was set in one of the walls of the console room.
- The Doctor's TARDIS is an old Type Forty.
- TARDIS doors are equipped with a de-icer.
- Mark VIs were made of phlebotinum.
- Ryan's clothes is made from cellulose-based materials. His shoes are made from rubber and plastic.
- The Citadel was made of iridanium steel.
- Grave Digger leaf-based armour was harder and lighter than Kevlar.
- Ryan almost picks the Fourth Doctor's multicoloured scarf against the cold of Calufrax Major but decides that it is "an obvious trip hazard".
- Yaz witnessed the Doctor defusing a temporal anomaly bomb on a derelict space station.
- Nightshade uses seed bombs.
- Planck's quantum of action is one of the universal constants.
- Star Trek features the so-called "Prime Directive" not to meddle in other civilisations.
- Graham mistakes the high-pitched voice of his begonia for the music of the Bee Gees.
- The Doctor explains the harmlessness of the begonia by saying it is not a triffid.
- The Doctor compares the polar region of the ice planet Calufrax Major to Narnia.
- The Doctor was present at the premier of The Magic Flute.
- Graham is worried about dropping spaghetti bolognaise on his jumper.
- At Willow's picnic, the travellers eat crunchy croutons that never got soft.
- On Calufrax Major, Ryan feels frozen like fish fingers in a freezer.
- Yaz hopes the Doctor knows some space karate. The Doctor replies that her martial art of choice is Venusian aikido.
- The age advisory from the publisher is 8 to 12 years.
- An audiobook was released by BBC Physical Audio on 1 November 2018, read by Sophie Aldred.
- An interview with David Solomons was printed in DWM 532, p. 60. In this interview, the author shared the following insights:
- The idea of the novel was inspired by the real-world seed vault in Norway, which is depicted in the novel as Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
- The choice in favour of an "episodic, quest-style story" was made for time considerations: to make sure that a problem with one part would not jeopardise the whole.
- The book had been written before Series 11 began airing. Thus, Solomons could not closely follow the onscreen characterisation of the Doctor and her companions.
- Some of the references in the novel pay behind-the-scenes homage to other famous books and stories:
- "monoliths on the moons of Europa" are reminiscent though not identical to the monolith on Europa from 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke;
- the apple theme, evident in the name of the First Gardener, mixed up with creation/destruction of the universe hints at biblical connotations;
- the planet Calufrax Major, where the Doctor receives a quest to find several keys, harkens back to the planet Calufrax from the television story The Pirate Planet, which itself was one of the segments of the Key to Time, which the Fourth Doctor was on a quest to find;
- Ryan thinking about fish fingers is a subtle nod to Eleventh Doctor's favourite food right after the regeneration in the television story The Eleventh Hour;
- While it is tempting to suggest that the reference to the Doctor helping Mozart deal with some haunted-mask problem might refer to the events of the audio story My Own Private Wolfgang, the details do not exactly match. While there the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe visited Mozart who was already bed-ridden and had finished his Requiem, famously his last musical creation, here the Thirteenth Doctor refers to an event that must have happened no later than the premiere of The Magic Flute;
- Zeno's paralocks are an obvious allusion to Zeno's paradoxes, especially the dichotomy paradox revolving around the inability to reach one place from another.
- The first chapter was later printed again, with additional illustrations, in Doctor Who The Official Annual 2020.
- The Thirteenth Doctor explains that the TARDIS is supposed to blend in with the environment using the chameleon circuit, but it got stuck in a form of a police box circa 1963. (TV: An Unearthly Child, Boom Town)
- Yasmin Khan never met Graham until their encounter with Tzim-Sha. (TV: The Woman Who Fell to Earth)
- Graham O'Brien was most keen to leave Earth and travel with the Doctor. (TV: Arachnids in the UK)
- They return to Graham's house to water his houseplants, a few weeks after first leaving the planet. (TV: The Woman Who Fell to Earth)
- Graham would not want to run into Ravenous monsters. Incidentally, Ravenous are especially feared by Time Lords. (AUDIO: Seizure)
- Graham finds a tourist prospect for the Leisure Hive on Argolis, but the Doctor has already been there and had issues with the tachyon generator. (TV: The Leisure Hive)
- The Doctor recalls how she and Sarah Jane Smith had problems with Krynoids. (TV: The Seeds of Doom)
- The Doctor mentioned that she originally borrowed the TARDIS. (TV: The Name of the Doctor, AUDIO: The Beginning)
- The First Doctor had to fight against Atropa belladonna before. (TV: The Sensorites)
- The Doctor recalls her encounters with Yeti robots. (TV: The Abominable Snowmen, The Web of Fear)
- Ryan Sinclair has dyspraxia. (TV: The Woman Who Fell to Earth)
- The Doctor mistakes a grandfather clock as the Master's TARDIS. (TV: The Deadly Assassin, The Keeper of Traken)
- The Doctor mentions having bought a T-shirt on the planet Shada, which she thought was "a terrible place". (TV: Shada, etc.)