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Qu Yi was from Liang Province and was familiar with the military strategy of the Xiongnu and Qiang nomads. During this time, Yuan Shao was also expanding his influence among the Han military elites, and it was this time that Qu Yi was recruited under Yuan Shao's wing.
In the Battle of Jieqiao, Qu Yi took the high position of controlling the central army. During this battle, Qu Yi slew Yan Gang (嚴綱) and was a great asset to Yuan Shao's army. However, this would also be his downfall. It is said that Qu Yi was arrogant and was purged by Yuan Shao.
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms
In the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Qu Yi was killed in the Battle of Jieqiao by Zhao Yun during the counterattack by Gongsun Zan's army. In reality, Zhao Yun and Qu Yi never had a chance to meet one another as Qu Yi had already been executed by Yuan Shao at that time. Qu Yi's importance in history was downplayed in the novel to enhance the importance of other characters.
- Chen, Shou (3rd century). Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
- Luo, Guanzhong (14th century). Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi).
- Pei, Songzhi (5th century). Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).
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