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The Secret in Vault 13 was a novel released on 1 November 2018 by BBC Children's Books. It was written by David Solomons and featured the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan.

Publisher's summary[]

A sinister school where graduation means death...

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...

Can the Doctor and her friends Yaz, Ryan and Graham uncover the shocking secret in Vault 13?


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.


The Fleet planet[]

Tellus IV[]

New Phaeton[]

  • Aaron
  • Lalitha
  • Porter
  • Peyton
  • The Faculty
  • M8-Tron


  • Tom Manners
  • Mr Delgado
  • Jonathan
  • Jonathan's sister
  • Professor Tarkovsky





  • 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.



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.

Earth locations[]

  • 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.

Other locations[]


  • 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.



  • 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.



  • Yaz witnessed the Doctor defusing a temporal anomaly bomb on a derelict space station.
  • Nightshade uses seed bombs.

Earth technology[]

  • Ryan once rode in a Mercedes with AIRMATIC suspension.
  • Ryan found brass binoculars in the TARDIS.


Cultural references[]

  • 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.

Martial arts[]

  • Yaz hopes the Doctor knows some space karate. The Doctor replies that her martial art of choice is Venusian aikido.


Audiobook cover.

  • 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:
  • The first chapter was later printed again, with additional illustrations, in Doctor Who The Official Annual 2020.


External links[]