Sun Yi was born in 184 in Shouchun and has been described to have similar bravery and determination to that of Sun Ce’s. In fact, when Sun Ce was mortally wounded and approaching his final days, some felt that he might choose Sun Yi as his successor over Sun Quan. However, the laws of succession were structured for the second oldest son to take over when the oldest met an untimely end. Subsequently, the older Sun Quan was the one to take over the forces of Sun Ce after his death. Furthermore, even if Sun Ce had chosen Sun Yi as his successor, it would have torn a rift in the family that could divide the country’s politics.
Sun Yi is described as being a rival to his brother, Sun Quan. He was the third son of Sun Jian and Lady Wu, and is described in his biography as being energetic and outgoing, much like Sun Ce. Sun Quan is described as being quite different, more of the reserved and thoughtful sort. Regardless, the ideas about Sun Yi being a better choice did not gain much attention, for the relationship between the brothers was good enough for Sun Yi to be granted the position of Grand Administrator of Danyang.
Sun Yi would go on to have some military successes, but like Sun Ce and Sun Kuang, he did not have a long life. Despite being from a family that would rise beyond the station of nobility into royalty, his ultimate fate exemplifies the dangerous and violent nature of the Three Kingdoms period. Sun Yi was assassinated by at a banquet by a man named Bian Hong.