Faendal is easy to get and performs well enough but it seems the best are mostly from joining guilds. --- I was going to say the cake is a lie, then I took an arrow to the knee...Then I ate some oranges and everything was k.
Marcurio is a mage mercenary you can get from Riften inn. He does the job for me and he's easy to acquire. --- "It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here." - Peter Molyneux
If you're willing to do Azura's Daedric quest and side with her, Aranea Ienith is a powerful mage with good AI. She treats you with some damn respect when she talks to you too. Give her all the magic potions you find and she'll destroy everything.
Ghorbash the Iron Hand is an orc ranger in Dushnikh Yal, all you have to do is pass a low speech check or brawl. Another great ranged damage dealer but he's a little tougher in a close up fight. Give him a single ebony/daedric arrow and he'll shoot them forever.
jammymacster posted... Marcurio is a mage mercenary you can get from Riften inn. He does the job for me and he's easy to acquire.
He is my favorite follower, but I do not recommend him for a melee character. I have gotten killed by his Chain Lightning. I use melee with melee and ranged with ranged. I know people disagree, but followers aren't necessary anyway, it's just for fun.
Illia rocks, and is fixed, but she's more medium range. Any good archers are stuck with hunting bows. Also, not mentioned are Eola and Brelyna. Both are solid.
Marcurio's AI tries to use cover, so he gets stuck, or wastes spells a LOT, and will do nothing when out of mana. He's great for being out of melee though. --- Remember: IamI3rian told ya Baby, you make me wish I had THREE hands. -Vinnie the cab driver