And I went writing merrily along, and only later wondered -- does that really work? Does this king really have this modern, impersonal, bureaucratic set up? It's not based on China. . . .
And then I reminded myself that the heroine traveled on a train. Not exactly a feudal analog. Indeed, any version of La Russie en 1839, though they are mostly abridged, contains the author's account of the bureaucrats he had to deal with to get into Russia. Even an early modern setting could give what I want. Especially since I'm not endowing the bureaucracy with the sort of exaggerated scholoris we all know and hate -- it's not one of the foes in the tale. Certainly it could have developed by the time of trains.
History. It didn't happen all in one day. 0:)