BitterBlack Isle is meant to be for post-Dragon/NG+ characters. It was originally a piece of DLC that was added after DD had been out for a while as content for those who had already maxed out in the basic game. The Dark Arisen version added it as part of the core package without changing the difficulty.
If you aren't experienced I recommend you stay away from the area until you're at least level 65 and both you and your pawn have gear from the post-Dragon stuff. You should probably also use pawns with similar gear & levels. You can get very easily killed if you don't know the area, especially if you're low level and under geared.
As far as smarter pawns go, you really want to pay attention to their Inclinations. You can check the wiki
for ho they work. Pawn Inclinations can make or break them and different types want different Inclinations (you usually don't want a Warrior who tries to stay away from the monsters).
Hm, I'm level 6 or 7 and the wolves give good exp at least.
I guess so. It's still weird that a mage is running in front me, towards the wolves, only to heal. Makes no sense, in my opinion.
Any way to make them smarter?
Ok so Inclinations set the AI in % fashion of the top 3 potions to make the PAWN do as you command. Its a very complex but not to complex idea to master
here is a quick youtube
Thanks, I will take a look at it when I have time (probably tomorrow).