Imagine all of time and space, the entire universe and everything in it. Imagine multiple dimensions, alternate realities, alternate Earths where the Roman Empire conquered the world or where Germany won the second world war. Imagine different timelines where the choices you made in your life went the other way. Now people all of those things with aliens of all shapes and sizes, with technologies so close to magic they're indistinguishable. This is our stage.
In the beginning the Great Houses realised that the universe was fairly structureless and needed to be more organised, tying their biology in with time and in the process of making it linear, creating the web of time, also known as the Spiral Politic. This is the orderly structure of history that is continually maintained and enforced by the Great Houses.
Along comes other sentient life in the universe and their advances in science soon bring them in to meddling in time technologies as well, which the Great Houses now have to police to maintain. One too many retro-active genocides later and you get rebellion in the form of the Enemy, which is set on de-regulating time and specifically destroying everything to do with the Great Houses.
Then there's the Faction (or House Paradox as it was first called) - punks to Thatcher's Britain, rebels to the Empire. The disaffected time active youth who got out of the Great Houses when rebellion was cool and before it went mainstream with the Enemy. The Faction doesn't want to destroy or overthrow anything, they just want some freedom, a say in events, and the ability to snub their noses at both the Great Houses and the Enemy.